Doctor heading home with MP ambitions

By Mike Dinsdale

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HOUSE CALL: Whangarei doctor and Harvard University Professor (Assistant) Shane Reti, here on one of his return visits to the city to treat patients, is returning home for good and seeking to stand as the National Party MP for the electorate. PHOTO/FILE
HOUSE CALL: Whangarei doctor and Harvard University Professor (Assistant) Shane Reti, here on one of his return visits to the city to treat patients, is returning home for good and seeking to stand as the National Party MP for the electorate. PHOTO/FILE

He was head-hunted by the eminent Harvard Medical School, but Whangarei doctor Shane Reti says his feet remain firmly grounded in Northland and he's returning home hoping to represent the district in Parliament.

After six years living in Boston, but returning every three months or so, Dr Reti is on his way home to seek the National Party nomination to replace Phil Heatley as MP in the 2014 general election.

Dr Reti said he was offered incentives by Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School to stay and carry on his important medical work, but the calling to come home for good was too strong.

"Harvard always knew I was just on loan and that at some stage I would go back. I'm a Whangarei boy and when the call came to come home (to seek the party's nomination to stand in the seat) came, I knew it was time," he said.

He knows it won't be plain sailing getting the party's nomination, with current National list MP, Whangarei-born and raised Paul Foster-Bell also seeking the nomination. But, Dr Reti says, he believes his credentials, track record and connections to Whangarei, will see him in good stead in the race to represent the district in the House.

He worked in general practice in Whangarei for 17 years, and was a member of the Northland District Health Board for seven years, before being awarded a Harkness Fellowship to Harvard, in 2007.

He has examined community health issues such as how to improve appointment rates at public hospitals, and once offered to fund a $70,000 survey on fluoride, out of his own pocket.

In 2004 he completed the first comprehensive study of Northland's heath status which revealed a deteriorating state of health, with diabetes a major concern after spending the previous two years pounding the pavements and knocking on doors interviewing almost 300 Northlanders and analysing their information to produce the ground-breaking study.

He returns home every three months or so to treat patients at his Rust Ave practice.

In April this year Dr Reti was called on by the NZ Embassy in Boston to visit the city's hospitals with NZ Honorary Consul Simon Leeming, to see if any of the dead or injured from the Boston Marathon terror blast were New Zealanders or Australians.

"I know Whangarei and Northland as well as anybody and despite being offered a number of incentives to stay (at Harvard) I want to come back and try to make a difference for Whangarei in Parliament," he said.

Dr Reti said he was to the right of centre in his political leanings, believing in strong fiscal responsibility. "But I also believe in a social safety net, so that makes me egalitarian. I also believe in reward for hard work, which makes me centre right," he said.

- Northern Advocate

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