Richard Smaill

Academic Advisor


Richard has lived with a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) since 1974, when he was injured playing rugby, aged 15 years.

He went back to school to gain University Entrance, then went on to study Psychology at University of Otago and University of Canterbury, becoming a registered Psychologist in 1984.

He worked for many years in the health services in a variety of positions in research, planning and senior management. Also over this time he completed a Diploma in Health Service Management and was also awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship to study health information systems in Great Britain.

He left the health services in 1993 to become self-employed establishing a business undertaking career counseling as well as a variety of consultancy work.

In 2000 he incurred secondary health complications relating to his original SCI which resulted in further lost of movement and finally neurosurgery in 2002. From this experience he began reading about the issues facing ageing people with SCI which lead him to start a part-time doctorate research project at University of Otago Christchurch in 2006. He was fortunate to be granted an $87,000 Health Research Council Disability Research Placement Award. The doctorate thesis Ageing SCI in New Zealand was completed in 2014 and was recognized by the Division of Health Sciences as being of exceptional quality.

Richard has voluntarily been involved in a variety of charitable organizations at a governance level. He was a trustee and then Chair of the Board of Trustees for the St John of God Services (2001-2005), trustee of BAIL (2005-2016), trustee and Chair of the New Zealand Spinal Trust for many years (2002-2020) and trustee on the Waimairi School Board (1998-2004). He is currently on the governance board for the New Zealand Spinal Cord Impairment Register (NZSCIR).

He is happily married with two adult children.