Tizard's fighting fit to campaign at 83

By Wayne Thompson

A former Minister of Health, 83-year-old Bob Tizard, is putting himself up for election to the Auckland District Health Board.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said yesterday at his Grafton home, after spending the morning at the University of the Third Age where he convenes a group on New Zealand history.

"Those people were enthusiastic I was standing - none of the 'you're past it boy, leave it to someone who is younger and keener'."

Mr Tizard, who retired from politics in 1990, owes his renewed taste for campaigning to the withdrawal of a City Vision candidate.

"I said I was prepared to do it and after consultation and consideration they said 'you're on'."

Fielding a number of candidates for the seven places on the board was important for City Vision, he said, because the election was under the single transferable voting system.

Mr Tizard has little experience as a health services consumer. He has not been a hospital patient since 1979, although he was one of the merry band of "Blue Coats" - volunteers who helped Auckland Hospital visitors to find their way through the building changes in 2003.

"I still have the same blood pressure as I took into the Air Force at 18," he said.

"I'm about to start my 70th season at the Remuera Golf Club and I walk the dog and live in a house with three flights of stairs."

He said he had always been interested in the health field and made his mark in that portfolio in the Kirk Labour Government during a 38-year political career which included time as Deputy Prime Minister.

His ex-wife, Dame Catherine Tizard, is a former Governor-General and Mayor of Auckland, and their daughter Judith Tizard is Minister for Auckland Issues.

Mr Tizard added that as a senior citizen he wanted "to improve hospital management" into the homes of people being discharged.

"There can be better and wider services so that people in the 70s and 80s can maintain their independence and pride by living longer in their own homes and getting out of hospital quicker.

"Auckland has most of the specialties, and patients from the rest of the country and Pacific Islands come here. The effect is it keeps Auckland Hospital full and it keeps Auckland patients out from treatment they need to get."

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