Alumni Spotlight: Dr Teuila Percival

“We’ll always have teachers we remember who made a huge impact on us,” said Dr Teuila Percival at this year’s senior prizegiving. She saluted her own science teacher, Mr Bowater, and encouraged students to keep lessons from their parents and teachers in mind as they embark on “lifelong learning, wonderful adventures and journeys” ahead. 

Dr Percival completed her studies at Thames High School in 1976 and went on to study medicine at the University of Auckland, where she now serves as a paediatrician and head of the Pacific Health Unit. Her work has taken her beyond the clinic and into the community — both across the Pacific and closer to home — to address the root causes of preventable illness in children. 

“When you work in hospitals long enough, you begin to see the same children suffering unnecessarily,” she said. “And you realize that sometimes the opportunities to do something about that suffering are outside of hospitals.” 

She has led research on child malnutrition in Samoa, coordinated efforts to train frontline medical staff in the Solomon Islands, taken part in medical missions to the remote island of Tokelau, contributed to the emergency response to the 2009 tsunami in Samoa, and led critical research and planning related to the impact of climate change on children’s health in Pacific island nations. Closer to home, her wellness initiatives have helped address child obesity and healthy eating in communities facing high rates of health disparities. 

Dr Percival’s work brings to life the values we hold in such high regard in our school: compassion, tireless work, respect for learning and a commitment to using academic achievement to make a difference in our communities.