Newspaper Article 2016 – Cardiologist known for his wit, erudition

Cardiologist known for his wit, erudition

Michael Ingram Bostock
heart physician
born August 2, 1922 – died November 28, 2015, aged 93.

By virtue of his height, handsome features and his excellent deportment, and, of course, his medical skill, Michael Bostock was an admired figure in Hawke’s Bay for more than six decades.

He was born in Chelsea, London, on August 2, 1922. His forbears were notable. His mother’s father, Emslie John Horniman, was a tea merchant in London whose business was by 1891 the largest tea trading business in the world. His legacy is the impressive Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, London.

Michael’s father had a distinguished military career. He was about to be promoted to director-general of the Royal Army Medical Corps – an appointment which carried the rank of major-general and a knighthood, when he died suddenly in August 1930, his son being then only 8 years of age.

Michael’s early years were spent at the military camp of Aldershot. His nanny was a friend of the Milne family and he and Christopher Robin Milne grew up together.

He was educated at Rugby, and at New College, Oxford, where he studied medicine.

He also studied the clarinet, without the success that attended him in other walks of life. The Regius Professor of Music paused on the stairs of the Music School to say: “I admire your assiduity of practice, Bostock, but I must tell you that when you do it hurts my head.”

He graduated a Bachelor of Surgery and Bachelor of Medicine in 1945, the fourth consecutive generation of the family to do so.

Almost at once the obligation to perform military service took him to Palestine and Transjordan as Medical Officer to the XII Royal Lancers. When demobilised in 1947 the cold grey skies of England were unappealing after the Middle Eastern sun, so he sought the brightness of Africa.

He travelled through Kenya and, with an American friend, through the Rwenzori mountains of Uganda. His companion was heir to a lavatory paper factory: “When business is good we sell plenty. When business is bad we sell more.”

In South Africa racial strife loomed, so he returned to London Hospital (his first posting), then took up a research appointment in Vancouver, where he met and married Elizabeth Mackinlay, daughter of the Professor of Surgery.

He then went to the Brigham Hospital in Boston, an appointment from which he hastily resigned because the Korean War, in which the US was heavily engaged, caused him to receive “intimations from the Pentagon soliciting his participation”.

It was now 1954 and he and Elizabeth took the bold step of immigrating to New Zealand, choosing Havelock North to establish a home.

Michael worked patiently to establish a consulting practice in cardiology and internal medicine “in a country which had no such tradition”.

By 1982 he had established a cardiac rehabilitation unit at Hastings Hospital. He maintained the practice of making his ward rounds in a white coat, at the head of a phalanx of admiring junior staff.

He and his wife lived a vigorous life outside his medical practice. They travelled widely and skied at the fashionable Northern Hemisphere resorts.

Michael succeeded in climbing Mount Kilimanjaro where many fail. He worked hard to perfect his French accent, going several times to France to achieve this.

His interests included medieval history, classical music and good literature.

He was an erudite and engaging conversationalist whose company one unfailingly enjoyed.

Those who replied to his greeting with, “Good, thank you” might well be snubbed.

Stories of his wit abounded.

He was hospitable, and an accomplished cook.

He did not neglect his duty to the community. In particular he was the prime mover in establishing the Pakowhai Country Park, a large, attractive open space of grass and mature trees beside the gently flowing Raupare stream.

He is survived by his second wife, formerly Mrs Anne Wood. Their birth dates were identical, “so marriage seemed the right thing to do”.

He is also survived by three children: Sarah, a civil engineer; Hattie, proprietor of a garden centre; and John, a horticultural entrepreneur

– AJ Coleman

Photo captions –

HUNTSMAN: Michael Bostock on safari in Africa, circa 1948.

MEDICINE MAN: Michael Bostock in 1988 at Te Awa Estate Winery.   PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

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Format of the original

Newspaper article

Date published

17 September 2016

Creator / Author


Hawke's Bay Today


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today


  • Michael Ingram Bostock
  • Emslie John Horniman
  • Elizabeth Bostock, nee Mackinlay
  • Christopher Robin Milne
  • Mrs Anne Bostock, formerly Wood
  • Hattie, John, Sarah Bostock

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