Sir Donald Ward Beaven, 1924-2009

Born in Christchurch, educated at Christ’s College, Professor Beaven studied medicine at Otago University, and became an internationally respected and honoured teacher and researcher. He was regarded as a tireless advocate for people with diabetes and a promoter of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. A collector of art, Beaven was also a pioneer of the region’s wine and olive industries.

Sir Donald Ward Beaven died in a fire at his Little Akaloa holiday home on Wednesday, 4 November 2009.

Medical career

Beaven’s first years as a doctor were spent at Karamea. After further study and training overseas, he returned to New Zealand in 1955.

The Fulbright scholar was a foundation member of Diabetes Christchurch, the first society in New Zealand for people with diabetes. He was also a foundation professor at the Christchurch School of Medicine, where the Beaven lecture theatre is named in his honour. Professor Beaven finished his career at the University of Canterbury.

He was also known for his contribution to the establishment of the wine industry in Canterbury.


Beaven received the country’s highest honour when he was made a Distinguished Companion of the Member of the New Zealand order of Merit in the 2005 New Year’s Honours, for his services to persons with diabetes. He accepted a knighthood in August 2009.

Also in 2009 a bronze bust of Sir Donald was erected outside the Christchurch Arts Centre as one of Twelve Local Heroes by sculptor Mark Whyte.

Sir Don’s plaque reads:

"Doctor, research specialist and teacher, loved and respected as the founder of diabetes research and care in New Zealand, tireless promoter of the healthy life"


Photos of the Don Beaven bust

Don Beaven

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