About Robin McKenzie

robin mckenzie

Robin Anthony McKenzie in his hometown Raumati, NZ.

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 met with worldwide recognition. In addition, he received numerous awards from the medical and scientific communities from various countries. The validity of the theories he proposed are now supported with scientific evidence and the effectiveness of his treatments have been scientifically validated.

2004 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.
2000 Awarded as a Companion of New Zealand Order of Merit.
1998 Awarded Honorary Life Member of the New Zealand College of Physiotherapy.
1993 Awarded Honorary Doctorate of the Academy of Medical Sciences of Russia.
1990 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. 
1987 Awarded Honorary Life Member of the New Zealand Manipulative Therapists Association. 
1985 Awarded Honorary Fellowship of the New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists.
1984 Named a Fellow of the American Back Society.
1983 Elected to membership of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine.
1982 Awarded Honorary Life Member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)


Video Interview with Robin


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 the 13th 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.