Here is an interview from Good Morning between Sir Ray Avery and Tamati Coffey (note you will need to click on the link below to watch the video):

Ray Avery Medicine Mondiale

Sir Ray Avery of Medicine Mondiale talks to Good Morning

Below is a transcript of the interview:

Tamati Coffey:

New Zealand is a pretty special country. But scenery aside, a big part of New Zealand is its people. The question ‘what defines a New Zealander?’ is answered in a beautiful book, profiling kiwis from all walks of life. From the big names like Rhys Darby and Neil Finn, to equally talented writers and scientists. The Power of Us is a book for every coffee table, and someone who played quite a big part in the whole process, is Sir Ray Avery, and he joins us now. Welcome to the show.

Sir Ray Avery:

Good Morning.

Tamati Coffey:

What a great book. I’m going to hold it up so that everyone can see it. It’s not a small book, there’s lots in there. Tell me about the four of you that compiled it?

Sir Ray Avery:

Well I was doing a doco with Cameron Bennett and Adrian Malloch, and I recognised them as some adventurers with kindred spirits. So we decided to go on a journey right around New Zealand, to try and find what really defines us as a country. And then I managed to write my wife Anna Kiousis in to schedule the appointments. And that was a massive job, to get all these people to the same place at the same time. I think we were up to 59 different schedules in the end.

Tamati Coffey:

I can only imagine how hard that was. A task of not only co-ordinating schedules, but also coming up with a list. So there’s 50 people in here. How do you come up with 50 of New Zealand’s best?

Sir Ray Avery:

Well I really did want it to be heartland New Zealand, I didn’t want it to be the usual suspects. And I also was trying to find out what really did make us tick. And I think what we found was quite amazing. It wasn’t really that number 8 fencing wire it was really something much more pragmatic. And it’s best exemplified by a guy called Peter Beck. Peter Beck, probably most people have never heard of him, but he’s a young man who’s got a contract with the American government to develop rocket fuel. Now, he went down to the Iraqi gulf, and sent a rocket off into interstellar space, and there’s no other country in the world where you can actually do that without asking people. We have no idea where it landed. And that’s why we are the way we are, we’re a very open source country. And the tagline of the book is the giveaway of what makes us special, and that’s ‘New Zealanders who dare to dream’. Because we can dream, and there’s nothing to stop us. There’s nothing to stop you from putting a rocket into interstellar space, or developing anything you want. And I think the people in this book really epitomise that ‘going for it’ kind of philosophy.

Tamati Coffey:

Is he the person that stood out for you in the book?

Sir Ray Avery:

Well there’s a number. There’s Peter Beck, because he’s a young man and he flies below the radar, but another one would be Bill Buckley. May people don’t know who Bill Buckley is, but he makes 80% of the world’s electromagnets for the chips that go into your cellphone and TV flatscreens. It’s not a company in America, we make 80% of those things here. He makes them in New Zealand, and we don’t know who he is. I also just want to say, this is a time to recognise how clever we are, what clever buggers we are as a country.

Tamati Coffey:

I think so too. It;s all about celebrating us as New Zealanders. You’re actually born in England aren’t you? So you’ve come over here and this has also been a self discovery for you as well, in hearing all of these people’s different stories. The photography was also a part of it that you wanted to show off as well. Talk to me about the images ?

Sir Ray Avery:

Well we wanted to sort of capture the soul of these people, that’s why we made it a black and white rendition, because we wanted it to be an art book, and I think Cameron captured the essence of the people’s personality, but Adrian photographed them while the were being interviewed, and I think it tells a much better story, and it also shows how open source we are. There’s a lovely picture of Susan Devoy in the book, and she’s had her hair shaved off for cancer, and she was quite happy to be photographed without her makeup on, and all that thing. So this is New Zealand unplugged, this is us in the raw, and I think there’s a lot of self pride in this. If you read the book, it’s almost like a management book, because you’ve got 50 plus people who tell you how to be succesful.

Tamati Coffey:

I can’t think of anything better for a coffee table, especially coming into christmas as well. Thank you for joining us Sir Ray Avery.

Sir Ray Avery’s organisation Medicine Mondiale is always looking for more volunteers and donors to help the great work they are doing around the world. To show your support via social media or make a donation, please visit any of the following pages:

Posted by: medicinemondiale | 12 January, 2013

Ray Avery of Medicine Mondiale on Good Living

Thanks to Good Living for this great interview with Sir Ray.

Below is a transcript of the interview:

Andrea Dijkstra:

The anxious mother thought for a long tim. ‘I wish’ she said finally, ‘for my son to love everyone he meets.’ ‘That is the correct wish,’ said the guru, ‘It is granted.’ When the mother found her son again, he was walking through a crowd of people. Most were ignoring him, others shoved him as they passed by. One even took offense at something and spat on him, but his eyes were full of love, and his face had a look of total contentment. Ray Avery, there’s a lot of a face of contentment with you really, at this time, but there was a lot of contempt at the start of your world wasn’t there?

Ray Avery:

Well, my early life was very challenging, and I think I was always looking for love. It wasn’t until I began to do good work in developing countries, that I began to find some sort of redemption and freedom, so it’s sort of a parable of the opening part of that book. By loving others I found my own place in life.

Andrea Dijkstra:

Tell us about your childhood? Because when we think of families we think of love, but that’s not the right word really for your family was it?

Ray Avery:

Well I was brought up in a dysfunctional home. My mother was an alcoholic and my father was a womaniser, and he left home very early, and there was a lot of violence and brutality. My mother even at one stage tried to sell me to a friend so that she could get some money.So it was a very difficult childhood, and then I was attacked by my mother at one stage and beaten unconscious, so then I was made a ward of court, and never saw my mother again. But I ended up actually in a worse situation, because then I was in a whole diaspora of halfway houses and borstels, orphanages and so on. It was post war britain and there was 350,000 of us washed around, they were part of the debris of the bombing that had gone on, and also cases like me, post war affairs which really weren’t meant to be. But it was also an annealing time that enabled me to gain my own strength I think.

Andrea Dijkstra:

So how did the street kid then form to be a global influencer in our world now?

Ray Avery:

Well, in those institutions you get dehumanised. It’s almost like being in prison. I remember going to my case manager and they looked at the name on my case and it said Raymond and they said ‘well we’ve already got two Raymonds so you’ll be called Jack.’ So even those kinds of identity were lost. So you had to look inside yourself, and I think that was the beginning of being an ethical scientist in that I was a great observer of life. Because I wasn’t actually involved in it, so I would watch out the window. And books became a sense of escape. By reading books, I could be transported to a magic world which I believed existed. It didn’t exist for me, but I believed there was a good world that I could be part of.

Andrea Dijkstra:

Where did you find your first love with science?

Ray Avery:

Well I think what had happened was, all the abuse and things had turned itself into a sense of self determination, so I decided to make the world the way I wanted it to be. So armed with the knowledge I had in those books, I ran away from the orphanage for instance and lived under a railway bridge, and I was always a great entrepeneur, so I started getting bicycles from the local tip, repairing them and selling them to my friends. And that was the beginning of my sense of freedom and self determination.

Andrea Dijkstra:

And now of course your laboratories now provide 13% of the world market for intra-ocular lenses.

Ray Avery:

Well I became a professional scientist and had a unique set of skills to do things, and Fred Hollows approached me, to go to Eritrea in North Africa at the end of the 30 year war of independence, to build a laboratory. Unfortunately, the country was in ruins, because of the 30 year war. So it was a very hard job to do, but I promised Fred I’d do it. And we did, and now there are 16 million people walking around with one of the lenses made on the machinery that I designed. And that’s a nice thing, but that really just got me started because I thought ‘If I can do that, then I can do other big things.’ So we’ve got some low cost infant incubators, nutritional products, and an IV controller which will revolutionise the delivery of drugs in the developing world setting. So that little boy that was under the railway bridge dreamed of owning his own bicycle shop, and now, I dream of changing world health, so it’s a big change.

Andrea Dijkstra:

You’ve written a lovely letter about your wife ‘when she smiles that smile and those small creases form around her eyes and her nose when she laughs, she takes his breath away. She is a terrible beauty.’ And you’ve been graced with a child, and one on the way?

Ray Avery:

Yes I asked my wife when she was 42 if she might like a child and she said yes, and in the first month we conceived our baby. ANd she;s a wonderful 2 year old, and just a few months ago we found out we were having another, so my plumber thinks I should be made New Zealander of the year just for that feat. But I’m very blessed, I’ve found that complete love now. My daughter gives me a hug for instance, and in some way it washes away the last destitutes of all those bad years. So two things give me great joy now, my family, and seeing people, particularly when they have their sight restored and the bandages come off, they look like they’ve seen god for the first time, because their eyes light up. And then I know I’ve done a good day’s work

Andrea Dijkstra:

Thank you Ray, it;s been an absolute pleasure to have you here.

Posted by: medicinemondiale | 28 December, 2010

Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge

This photo was taken by one of the several photographers posted around the course. It was on the infamous Hatepe Hill. Infamous because it’s the last thing you’d want to encounter after already cycling 130km. The hill is so steep that many riders had to push their bikes up it. It’s the last big uphill on the course, and a welcome relief when you finally get to the top!

At the end of last month I took part in my first Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge.

It’s hard to picture now, with the rain we’re having, but the weather was amazing. Clear skies and scorching hot by mid-morning. The annual race draws thousands of competitors from around the country each year to ride around Taupo’s beautiful lake and countryside.

I chose to use my race to raise funds for Sir Ray Avery’s organisation Medicine Mondiale, and to make my challenge that much harder I rode a track bicycle. For those unfamiliar with such bikes, they’re the kind ridden by the likes of Sarah Ulmer on a velodrome. Track bikes have only one gear and no freewheel. The rear wheel is connected directly to the pedals resulting in a fixed drivetrain. This means I had no choice but to pedal for the entire race – no coasting down the hills or changing down to an easier gear when I got tired or on the steep climbs. As far as I know, I was the only person to do the full 160km solo ride on a track bike.

The race was tough but went really well. I finished the 160km well within my target, coming in with an official time of 5.37.15.

I also managed to raise more than $1200 for Medicine Mondiale – more than double what I was hoping to raise.

My thanks go out to everyone who donated in recognition of the great work Ray Avery and Medicine Mondiale do for people less fortunate than ourselves.
Post written by David Kraitzick

Posted by: medicinemondiale | 21 September, 2010

“Rebel with a Cause” Update

We are absolutely delighted that ‘Rebel with a Cause’ sold out the first print run in record time, and is still sitting at number 3 on the the NZ Non-Fiction Bestsellers List!  This is fantastic and everyone involved in the book is incredibly proud.  Thank you to you all for your interest in the book and the support you have given.  Do spread the word as all profits raised from the book go directly to Medicine Mondiale and the valuable work we are doing.

Posted by: medicinemondiale | 21 September, 2010

Thought for the Day

We need to teach people how to look at things.  I have not invented anything that hasn’t existed before . . . As a country we need to start applying that knowledge, turning it into practical things.

Posted by: medicinemondiale | 12 September, 2010

AUT three-day Design Challenge – $100 and basic prototyping materials

I was recently involved in Auckland University of Technology’s inaugural three-day design challenge.  Teams ere tasked with creating the missing element for a baby incubator, (recently designed by Medicine Mondiale) for use in developing countries. Days out from the event, the teams were provided with $100 and basic prototyping materials and set to work.

My role in the 3-Day Challenge was to brief the students, critique their designs and announce the winning team.  It was a great event, and more information and a great video can be found at the Idealog Design Daily website:

Posted by: medicinemondiale | 24 August, 2010

Paul Holmes interview with Ray Avery and Dr John Hood.

Paul Holmes interviewed me with Dr John Hood some months ago, you might like to view this by clicking the link here:

Posted by: medicinemondiale | 24 August, 2010

“The Rebel Who Found His Cause”

This is an excert from a feature article in The Listener this week.
It is written by Diana Wichtel who interviewed me at work recently.  You can read the whole article here:
From unpromising beginnings, Ray Avery chose the path of scientific doer-of-good rather than axe murderer.

The war against cliché suffers a setback when you meet Ray Avery. Phrases like “stranger than fiction” and “you couldn’t make it up” spring irresistibly to mind, along with the occasional “what the …?”

Even the taxi driver is bemused. “Is this an office?” he wonders, as he idles outside a house that, while hardly grand, does stand out in the neighbourhood east of Dominion Rd, Mt Eden. There’s an intercom at the gate, a red sports car in the drive and a sign announcing Avery’s development agency, Medicine Mon­diale, on the stone fence.

It’s a home and an office, I tell the driver. Of a person who invents things that save lives in developing countries. A scientist. “I didn’t know there are scientists in New Zealand,” says the driver.

Indeed. Especially ones with a garage that resembles a set from Breaking Bad, that television series about a science teacher with cancer who cooks methamphetamine to provide for his family. A while back, the garage door was open and there were men in space suits wandering around (doing something sterile), causing a serious rubbernecking hazard. “It looks like the biggest P lab in the world,” says Avery contentedly, surveying his bizarre domain.

He is very famous – winner of New Zealander of the Year and the Blake Medal for Leadership this year alone – for someone many haven’t heard of. More will now, thanks to his book, Rebel with a Cause. It’s the surprisingly funny story of a child born in postwar Britain who was abused and abandoned to foster homes and orphanages. The sort of book with a chapter that begins: “I lived under a railway bridge for the next eight months.” He was a young teenager at the time.

Avery’s father and mother were spectacularly feckless. His mother once considered selling him. When he was nine she beat him so badly he was made a ward of the court. He never saw her again. “They didn’t want me,” he writes, “and I don’t have a single good memory of either of them.”

Add such further obstacles as short sightedness, dyslexia and glue ear, and Charles Dickens would have rejected him as a character on the grounds of implausibility.

Avery might have grown up to be an axe murderer. Instead, he learnt to play a bad system, met eye doctor Fred Hollows and went on to design intra­ocular lens factories in Nepal and Eritrea, helping to restore sight to millions of cataract sufferers. He has invented a life-savingly precise and cheap intravenous drip clamp, a super protein food supplement and a low-cost incubator that can withstand developing world conditions. Possibly his greatest invention to date is himself.

Read on…..this is a great article –

Posted by: medicinemondiale | 20 August, 2010

Rebel With A Cause sells out first print run in record time!

We are delighted that we have sold so many copies of Rebel With a Cause so quickly – we hope you’re enjoying the read.  If you haven’t ordered your copy yet don’t miss out we have limited stock for sale on our website.

Posted by: medicinemondiale | 13 August, 2010

Rebel with a Cause Book Launch

Below is a review of our launch of ‘Rebel with a Cause’ from former leading New Zealand Publisher and Bookseller Graham Beattie, you can read the full article on his blog at:

“Wow, this was a biggie. More than 200 turned out for the launch of Ray Avery – Rebel With a Cause.
We were all there as guests of Kiwibank (sponsors of the New Zealander of the Year award of which Ray Avery was the inaugural recipient.), Random House and Sky City with wines from Invivo, Pelorus and Cloudy Bay. It was quite a party.

Brilliantly MC’d by Oscar Kightley, a close friend of Ray Avery, in fact he desribed himself and Ray as brothers from different mothers.Oscar  described the book as “an hilariously sad read”.
Other speakers included Sam Knowles CEO of Kiwibank, Jenny Hellen deputy publisher Random House NZ (below right), and then of course the man of the hour, New Zealander of the Year Ray Avery.

In his moving and impressive address spoke of his fondness of New Zealand, “the Antarctica Riviera”, of his philosophy and belief that anyone can achieve anything if they don’t give up no matter how tough things get. He went on to pay special thanks to Kiwibank for recognising Kiwis who are making a difference, Paul Little for ghost-writing the book for him, Random House, Sky City amd Pelorus Wines.

As Jenny Hellen said Ray changes the world, he changes everything and everyone around him.

After the speeches Ray patiently and most graciously signed copies of the book and had his photograph taken with numerous fans for well over an hour with Unity Books reporting sales of close to 150 copies. Bravo.”

Older Posts »