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Physiotherapy Acupuncture Association of New Zealand (PAANZ)

New Zealand physiotherapists are recorded as having practiced acupuncture as early as 1972, when a member of the New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists (NZSP) laid a complaint about another physiotherapist, Ray Young, for practicing acupuncture (Rapson et al, 1997; Scrymgeour, 2000).

TAGS: paanz, acupunture

New Zealand physiotherapists’: early forays into acupuncture

New Zealand physiotherapists are recorded as having practiced acupuncture as early as 1972, when a member of the New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists (NZSP) laid a complaint about another physiotherapist, Ray Young, for practicing acupuncture (Rapson et al, 1997; Scrymgeour, 2000). Ten years later he would be elected as the inaugural President of PAPMA, (The Physiotherapy Acupuncture and Pain Modulation Association). The original name was developed as some interested physiotherapists did not use acupuncture but other modalities to modify pain.

The growing interest of acupuncture as a potential physiotherapy tool, and the complaint laid against Ray Young, prompted the NZSP to establish a committee in 1973 to evaluate acupuncture’s place within physiotherapy practice.

In 1974, Ray Young presented a paper on acupuncture at the WPCT in Montreal in 1974.

1975 saw a request made to the NZSP to increase the training programmes of physiotherapists to four years including acupuncture in the curriculum.

In the early 1980’s physiotherapists who had developed an interest in acupuncture travelled to Australia to undertake formal acupuncture training. Acupuncture had started to ingrain itself within physiotherapy practice in New Zealand.

PAPMA – it’s beginning

PAPMA was formed in Auckland in 1982. Inaugural subscriptions were set at $10.00

The first acupuncture course on western style acupuncture for analgesia for physiotherapists was held in Dunedin later in 1982. Dr Michael Butler was invited by Billie McLeod from the Otago University’s Physiotherapy department.

PAPMA run l education courses in acupuncture developed by Erwin Drok, Peter Larmer and Ray Young and commenced in 1983. These initial three, two-day weekend courses subsequently trained many physiotherapists in Western and traditional Chinese acupuncture skills.

In 1984, year PAPMA was formally recognised as a special interest group of the New Zealand Society of Physiotherapy (Rapson et al, 1997).


In 1998 PAPMA was renamed Physiotherapy Acupuncture Association of New Zealand (PAANZ) (Scrymgeour, 2000). Because all of the members practiced acupuncture the name was changed to reflect the direction the special interest group would take.

The World Confederation for Physical Therapy was requested in 1989 by PAPMA/PAANZ to “accept acupuncture as a modality of physiotherapy” (Scrymgeour, 2000, p.137). This was to assist acupuncture practice rights for physiotherapists from countries where acupuncture was restricted to practice by the medical profession only (Scrymgeour, 2000).

In 1990 PAANZ developed the PAANZ Introductory course . This comprised 80 hours of standardized education . Following the introductory course further post-basic courses in many acupuncture related fields were offered. The objective was to reach 150 hours of education to ensure continuing professional development . This 150-hour education requirement enabled the gaining of ‘Registration’ as a physiotherapist practicing acupuncture (Scrymgeour, 2000). In 1991 a requirement to maintain 30 hours of acupuncture continuing professional development over three years was required to retain registration.

In 1991 the inaugural meeting of IAAPT (The International Association Acupuncture in Physical Therapy) was held. Erwin Drok represented New Zealand. Subsequently many PAANZ members have represented New Zealand on the IAAPT Executive committee including Diana Turnball, Shirley Lamont, Michael Lamont, Lucy Ireland and Karen Keith, Karen having held the Presidency of IAAPT for eight years.

An administrator, Peggy Greenheld was employed to administer to the PAANZ membership in 1994. The Administrator’s role moved into the PNZ office in 2009 when Diana Cox took on the role. Diana died tragically in January 2012 and currently Myriam Goos administrates PAANZ.

From 1997 PAPMA commenced discussions with AUT (Auckland University of Technology) to initiate a university based post-graduate acupuncture education programme. This was first offered as a Post-graduate Certificate in Western Acupuncture in 1999 (Scrymgeour, 2000). The Introductory PAANZ course continued until 2002. A Postgraduate Certificate of Acupuncture course at Otago University, for physiotherapists, commenced in 2004.

Legislation - changes and implications for NZ acupuncturists

In 2004 acupuncture was confirmed by The Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand as being within the scope of physiotherapy practice under the HPCAA (2003) “following appropriate training” (The Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand , 2004, p.9).

2005 saw acupuncture groups in New Zealand meet to apply for acupuncture to be recognised under the Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act. This application was successful, but was not brought into legislation due to changes in the HPCA Act. In 2011 two lay acupuncture groups made further submission for traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture, to be accepted under the HPCA Act. Again PAANZ has been involved in the submission process. This application is still being processed in June 2012.

Current situation

PAANZ has several life members, including Erwin Drok, Peter Larmer, Diana Turnball, Shirley Lamont and Robyn Vintner. Without the dedication of these and many other PAANZ Executive committee members and PAANZ tutors, PAANZ would not be in the healthy state it is today. Nor would standards of New Zealand acupuncture education and practice of physiotherapists be at the high level that it is today.


Hopwood, V. (1997). A personal view of acupuncture in the orthodox world of physiotherapy. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 5, 238-240. Retrieved October 06, 2011 from http://www.elsevierhealth.com

Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand. (2004). Acupuncture. A modality within the practice of physiotherapy. InTouch. The Newsletter of the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand, December. Retrieved from Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand website: http://www.physioboard.org.nz/index.php?ThePracticeofPhysiotherapy

Rapson, L., Ellis, N., Turnball, D., Madzokere, H., Haker, E., & Carballo, A.M. (1997). Introduction of acupuncture into some countries. In V. Hopwood, Lovesey, M., & Mokone, S., (Eds.), Acupuncture and related techniques in physical therapy (pp. 163-173). New York, N.Y.: Churchill Livingstone.

Scrymgeour, J. (2000). Moving on. A history of the New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists Inc. 1973-1999. Wellington, N.Z.: New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists Inc.

Compiled by: Susan Kohut, Peter Larmer & Andrea Moses (June, 2012)


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