Tauranga GP Derry Seddon was an innovative doctor and committed conservationist whose legacy lives on in the medical centre he established, the environmentally-friendly farm he part-owned and the large family that survives him.
The son of West Coast MP Thomas Seddon and wife Beatrice, Thomas Derisley "Derry" Stuart Seddon was born in Wellington in 1932. He graduated from medical college in 1956 and moved to Tauranga with his wife, Jenny, four years later.
The couple, who bought a house at the water's edge in Matua, went on to have seven children, 15 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Dr Seddon, a GP, anaesthetist and obstetrician, developed his own practice until 1970 when he took on a partner, Pat Hertnon, and established the Otumoetai Health Centre.
Ahead of his time in many areas, Dr Seddon was a pioneer in allowing practice nurses to work as nurse practitioners and in developing an integrated health centre well before such centres became common practice.
Drs Seddon and Hertnon set up a company called Medical Data Processing and introduced capitation funding at their clinic in the late 1970s. Twenty years later, capitation funding went on to become the funding mechanism for general practices nationally.
Dr Seddon served as the chairman of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners from 1986 to 1989, and continued practising at his clinic until 1998.
After retiring, he spent an increasing amount of time at the Katikati farm he jointly owned with his daughter and son-in-law, Jane and Rick Burke. Derry and Jenny originally bought the 40ha block at Thompson's Track in 1978 and, together with the Burkes, bought neighbouring blocks until the farm reached 370ha.
Leaving the farm management to the Burkes, Derry concentrated on retiring hard-to-farm land, protecting waterways and planting trees.
About 20 per cent of the farm's total area has been retired and native trees such as kauri, rimu and totara have been planted thanks to his efforts.
On entering the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards in 2003 and 2010, the families received two awards on each occasion in recognition of the protection work on the farm.
Dr Seddon was described as a free thinker, a visionary leader and a man committed to positive change. He consistently questioned the status quo and provided pragmatic suggestions for the way forward. Speaking at his funeral, family friend Alistair Harray said Dr Seddon was noted for his compassion. "His compassion came from his passion for people - that is true compassion. It is not sympathy or feeling sorry for others - it comes from that deep burning, that commitment to life. Perhaps he could be rigid - but you can't have it both ways. You are either full-on or hesitant and undecided. Derry was passionate about compassion. You can see the same spirit in Jenny and passed on to their family."
Dr Seddon died on September 16 after a short illness. He is survived by Jenny, his elder brother Dick and three generations of children.