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3 Jun 2024

Dr John Peek CNZM

2024 King’s Birthday Honours Announcement

Fertility New Zealand is delighted with the news that Dr John Peek has received the Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) honour in the 2024 King’s Birthday Honours.


Since the mid-1980s, Dr John Peek has pioneered and been at the forefront of assisted reproductive technology (ART) and fertility treatment in New Zealand. Fertility has been his life’s work. Without him, thousands of New Zealand babies would not have been born and the lives of their parents would have taken a very different course. His career and voluntary service with Fertility New Zealand have had an enormous impact on an immeasurable number of New Zealanders.


Dr Peek was instrumental in establishing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in New Zealand as part of a small group of clinicians who began offering it to patients at the National Women’s Hospital in Auckland after he returned to New Zealand from Australia in 1984. He had seen the profound impact IVF had on those struggling to conceive a baby when it was introduced in Australia in the early 1980s while he was working in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Adelaide.


In 1987, Dr Peek took his expertise to Fertility Associates, which now has clinics throughout New Zealand. Dr Peek led quality processes, information management and science direction across all locations, having previously been Group Operations Manager (1999–2014) and Scientific Director (1987–1999). Dr Peek retired at the end of 2024.


Recognising the importance of providing emotional and other support to those taking part in fertility treatment, in 1990 Dr Peek spearheaded the establishment of the Infertility Society of New Zealand, now Fertility New Zealand. Fertility New Zealand walks alongside all people facing fertility treatment and is now 34 years old. It has had an impact on thousands of people as they have navigated their fertility challenges, providing support and information services and being the voice of this community through advocacy work. He has been an active supporter of the charity from the beginning in a variety of roles, including board advisor, supporter and an incredible 29 years as a voluntary board member where he guided Fertility New Zealand though periods of growth, refocus and change.


Dr Peek’s innovative introduction of controlled embryological environments at the very beginning of IVF, has been recognised worldwide and they have become an accepted international standard. He was the first New Zealand human embryologist and there are still very few embryologists in New Zealand who have not been trained or influenced by him both practically and in the teaching of embryology as science rather than a technical skill. His role as a PhD supervisor in this field, when not immediately associated with a university, shows the esteem in which he is held within the scientific community.


Throughout his career, Dr Peek has maintained a consistent output of world-class research, publishing around 40 peer-reviewed journal articles and presenting at numerous conferences.

Quality management to ensure patients’ safety has been a long-term research and professional focus of his. In 2009, he was the first scientist, rather than clinician, to be appointed Chair of the Fertility Society of Australia and New Zealand’s Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee. Such was the success of his three-year term, only scientists have been appointed since.


In the mid-1990s, Dr Peek co-authored for the Government the priority access criteria that provides guidelines for public access to ART, and in 2006 he sat on the New Zealand Standards Committee that developed Fertility Standard NZS8181 to regulate treatment, for which he received a New Zealand Standards Meritorious Service Award.


Dr Peek has never sought recognition for all he has done and achieved for fertility treatment in this country and overseas, instead gaining his reward from the impact he has had on patients.


But recognition is what he merits: for the countless voluntary hours and contributions he has donated to Fertility New Zealand and those we help; for his unpaid contributions to ensuring New Zealand has and maintains internationally respected standards for fertility treatment; for the leadership he has shown across the fertility sector in Australasia and beyond; and last, but not least, for the thousands of lives in New Zealand and overseas created or transformed through his dedication to fertility treatment and the people it helps.

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