Robin McKenzie

Robin Anthony McKenzie was born in Auckland in 1931. He was educated at Wairarapa College, spent his student years at Otago University, and graduated from the New Zealand School of Physiotherapy in Dunedin in 1952. In 1953, he started a private practice in Wellington, and it was here that he developed a special interest in treating spinal disorders.


During his lifetime, his contributions to the understanding and treatment of spinal problems have met with worldwide recognition and he received numerous awards from the medical and scientific community from various countries: The validity of the theories he has proposed are now supported with scientific evidence and the effectiveness of his treatments have been scientifically validated.


A random sampling of physical therapists in the Orthopaedic Section of the APTA named him the number one most influential and distinguished physical therapist in the field of orthopaedic physical therapy.


Awarded as a Companion of New Zealand Order of Merit.


Awarded Honorary Life Member of the New Zealand College of Physiotherapy.


Awarded Honorary Doctorate of the Academy of Medical Sciences of Russia.


Awarded Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists in the United Kingdom, and in the 1990 Queen's Birthday Honours was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. 


Awarded Honorary Life Member of the New Zealand Manipulative Therapists Association. 


Awarded Honorary Fellowship of the New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists.


Named a Fellow of the American Back Society.


Elected to membership of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine.


Awarded Honorary Life Member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)

After retiring from active practice, Robin McKenzie acted as an international consultant to organisations involved in research and treatment of mechanical spinal disorders.

Aside from his professional life, Robin McKenzie had three other passions: first and foremost was his family. Robin described his family as the “truly strong spine of his life.” They supported him through the struggles of his early professional career, celebrated the accolades he received for his achievements, and supported him in the difficult times of his illness.

Sailing and gardening were hobbies that he loved. In 1970, he bought a 40-foot sailing ketch and taught himself to sail, becoming so competent that he eventually competed in several long distance regattas. His gardening was also done with characteristic thoroughness.  He created gardens of spectacular beauty, one of which consisted entirely of native New Zealand plants.

On 13 May 2013, Robin McKenzie died peacefully after a courageous battle with cancer. He was at his home in Raumati, New Zealand, surrounded by his beloved family. He is survived by his wife and soul mate, Joy, four children and six grandchildren.

Robin McKenzie created The McKenzie Institute International in 1982 and led its growth into a worldwide educational organisation. Physiotherapists, doctors, chiropractors and other allied health professionals in 40 different countries have been educated in the McKenzie Method and the expansion of The McKenzie Institute’s Education Programme continues to grow.