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Office of the Children's Commissioner mourns passing of Sir Ian Hassall

Media releases

15 June 2021

The Commissioner, Assistant Māori Commissioner and all the staff of the Office of the Children’s’ Commissioner mourns the passing of Dr Sir Ian Hassall – the first person appointed Children’s Commissioner for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Sir Ian was a noted and committed paediatrician at the time of his appointment as New Zealand’s first Commissioner in 1989. He had been at the forefront of cot death research and a successful advocate for the compulsory fencing of private swimming pools.

“Yesterday we learned of his passing which will be mourned by all those in the child welfare field – and indeed all of New Zealand," Commissioner Andrew Becroft says.

“Sir Ian blazed a pioneering trail in setting up the office of the Children’s Commissioner and ensuring that it stood firm in its advocacy for children and their rights. He was an early advocate for what was then known as a ‘no hitting’ approach to raising children. He put the Office on the map and established its credibility for the decades to come, providing a solid base for subsequent research and advocacy.

“Sir Ian was a compassionate, principled man who was absolutely dedicated to improving the lives of New Zealand’s children. He brought a rigorous research-based approach to the work of the office and was greatly respected in all his roles. He’ll be greatly missed,” Commissioner Becroft says.