Kathleen Todd

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Kathleen Todd
Born Kathleen Mary Gertrude Todd
(1898-11-19)19 November 1898
Heriot, New Zealand
Died 22 March 1968(1968-03-22) (aged 69)
Wellington, New Zealand
Parent(s) Charles Todd
Mary Hegarty
Relatives Charles Todd (father)
Charles P. Todd (brother)
Desmond Todd (brother)
Moyra Todd (sister)
Bryan Todd (brother)
Andrew Todd (brother)
Sheila Todd (sister)
John Todd (nephew)[1]

Kathleen Mary Gertrude Todd (19 November 1898 – 21 March 1968) was a pioneering New Zealand child psychiatrist.

Early life[edit]

Kathleen Todd was born in 1898 in Heriot, Otago. She was one of the seven children of Charles Todd, an auctioneer and stock and station agent who founded the firm that became the Todd Corporation, and his wife Mary Hegarty. Kathleen was educated at St Dominic’s College, Dunedin of which she was dux in 1915.[2] She proceeded to the University of Otago to study medicine graduating (M.B.Ch.B) UNZ in 1923. She obtained junior medical positions, but for women doctors professional options were limited in New Zealand at that time.[3] She carried out further studies in Vienna and London hospitals and did further courses in Boston and Oakland, California in psychological medicine. She obtained a Diploma in Psychological Medicine (DPM) in London.[4]


Todd returned to New Zealand in 1930 and for five years she headed the psychological clinic at the Auckland Mental Hospital, Avondale. In 1935 she commenced studies at the West End Hospital for Nervous Diseases, and at the Tavistock Clinic, both leading centres of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. Todd increasingly worked in child guidance clinics, where multi-disciplinary teams of specialists diagnosed and treated children who had mild emotional and behavioural problems, and also their parents. She was appointed assistant director of the child guidance department at West End Hospital and became a staff member at the Tavistock Clinic and at the psychological clinic at Hill End Hospital. In 1941 she became director of the London Child Guidance Clinic and Training Centre. She wrote the influential Child treatment and the therapy of play with Lydia Jackson. Published in 1946, it was aimed at professionals and parents and became a best seller. In 1947 she contributed a section on the child guidance clinic to the practitioner handbook Child health and development .[4] Todd became a Member of the British Psychological Society in 1938 and a Fellow in 1942; a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1941; a Member of the Royal Medico Psychological Association in 1943.[5]

Todd also conducted a private practice first in Wimpole St and then in Harley Street. She lived with her sister Moyra Todd, her life’s companion, in Hampstead; New Zealand doctors studying or practising in England were often entertained there. In 1943 Kathleen was diagnosed with breast cancer and when she returned to New Zealand for a holiday three years later, decided not to return to London. From 1949 to 1963 she ran a private practice from her home in Melling, Lower Hutt, but was able to continue her involvement with wider professional issues. Kathleen Todd used her considerable means to establish Fellowships to assist young psychiatrists in postgraduate study in London, one per year from 1962. She intended the money, GBP600 ($24,000 in 2012) per year for three years, to pay for a personal psychoanalysis and assist with a broad experience of European culture. She stipulated that Kathleen Todd Fellows return to New Zealand to private practice.[4] Brian Barraclough MD FRACP was the first Fellow 1962-64.

Todd also developed an active interest in the convalescent home at Qui Nhon, South Vietnam, which had been established by the London branch of the Save the Children Fund adjacent to the New Zealand surgical unit. With her sister, Moyra, she made a large grant to her local branch of the fund.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Kathleen Todd shared in the considerable wealth of the Todd family as her father made a point of spreading shareholdings amongst his children and to his wife (although the males got bigger parcels than the females).[6] When Kathleen Todd and Moyra Todd were living in Hamstead their well-ordered household included servants and "Brett the butler".[7] Todd's personal interests included photography and gardening, which combined in her photographs of flowers. She was a member of the New Zealand Rhododendron Association, the Pukeiti Rhododendron Trust, and the New Zealand Camellia Society. Kathleen Todd read widely and was also interested in graphic arts and music. Entertaining guests with her sister, which had been a feature of London life, continued at Melling where she was known for her "gentle but strong support, her great sense of fun and enjoyment in life, and the quiet hospitality of their lovely home". In 1963 Kathleen Todd underwent surgery, and all forms of outside activity were curtailed. Cared for by her two sisters, Moyra Todd and Sheila White, in her last years, she died at home on 21 March 1968.[4]


  1. ^ Monica Showalter (2001). "New Zealand's First Billionaire". Forbes. 
  2. ^ Galbreath, p. 142.
  3. ^ Galbreath, pp. 146 and 147.
  4. ^ a b c d e Labrum, Bronwyn (22 June 2007). "Todd, Kathleen Mary Gertrude 1898 - 1968". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 24 October 2010. 
  5. ^ Galbreath, p. 157.
  6. ^ Galbreath, p. 136.
  7. ^ Galbreath, p. 155


  • Galbreath, Ross (2010). Enterprise and Energy: The Todd Family of New Zealand. Wellington: Todd.