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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


McINDOE, Sir Archibald Hector, C.B.E.


Plastic surgeon.

Archibald McIndoe was born in Dunedin on 4 May 1900, the son of John McIndoe, founder of a successful printing firm, and of Mabel, née Hill, well known in her own right as singer and artist, and sister of Alfred Hill, composer and musician. He was educated at a Dunedin primary school, at the Otago Boys' High School, and the University of Otago. As a medical student he was usually in the upper third of his classes and won the medals in clinical medicine and clinical surgery in his final examinations in 1923. In his fifth year as a medical student he carried out a survey of the effect of environment on the health of the inhabitants of a substandard housing area, in which he revealed his deep interest and sympathy with the individuals and particularly the children exposed to unfavourable conditions.

After graduation he held a house surgeon appointment at the Waikato Hospital in Hamilton and then secured the first fellowship at the Mayo Clinic granted to New Zealand. He held this fellowship from 1924 to 1928, graduating M.Sc. at the University of Minnesota in 1927. McIndoe was then appointed an assistant surgeon at the Mayo Clinic, in which position he served for three years, when he decided to move to London. Under considerable financial difficulty he took his F.R.C.S., England, and came under the influence of a relative, also a New Zealander, Sir Harold Gillies, who was at that time creating the new speciality of plastic surgery at St. Bartholomew's Hospital. McIndoe became his assistant at St. Bartholomew's and joined him in partnership in private practice as a plastic surgeon. McIndoe had found his niche. He quickly became a leading figure in his speciality, receiving many appointments to London hospitals.

In 1938 he was appointed a consultant in plastic surgery to the Royal Air Force and on the outbreak of war he became surgeon in charge of the now famous plastic and jaw injury centre at the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead. McIndoe soon went from strength to strength in his speciality; and in his remarkable “Guinea-pig Club” he brought into play all his powers of enlisting the full psychological cooperation of his patients in their rehabilitation. Before long he had won international recognition for his work.

He was a member and a vice-president of the Council of the College of Surgeons, and a former president of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons, an honorary fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and an honorary M.D. of the University of Uppsala. He was knighted in 1947.

McIndoe was a natural leader of men and an inspiring teacher. He had an amazing facility for inspiring confidence and friendship and a great warmth of personality. From his youth he had developed a love of music and was a fine pianist.

He was twice married and had two daughters. He died suddenly in London on 12 April 1960.

by Charles Ernest Hercus, KT., D.S.O., O.B.E., U.D., M.B. CH.B.(N.Z.), M.D., D.P.H., B.D.S., F.R.C.P., F.R.A.C.P., F.R.A.C.S., Emeritus Professor, University of Otago.

  • McIndoe – the Plastic Surgeon, McLeave, H. (1961)
  • Dominion, 16 Apr 1960, 23 Apr 1960 (Obits)
  • Evening Post, 16 May 1960.


Charles Ernest Hercus, KT., D.S.O., O.B.E., U.D., M.B. CH.B.(N.Z.), M.D., D.P.H., B.D.S., F.R.C.P., F.R.A.C.P., F.R.A.C.S., Emeritus Professor, University of Otago.