History of the Arthur Herbert Couch Trust

This Trust was established in November 1972 through the generosity of the late Arthur Herbert Couch.

Arthur Couch was the owner of a North Shore Printing Company – Tanner Couch Printers – and though originally from the U.K, lived most of his life on the North Shore. He had been a patient in the Coronary Care Unit at Auckland Hospital under the care of Dr Kevin O’Brien. Kevin and Arthur became good friends. Prior to establishing the Trust discussions were undertaken with the Auckland Hospital Medical Superintendent and with Dr Michael Gilmour (Chairman of Auckland Public Hospital Physicians).

Arthur Couch funded the legal expenses for the establishment of the Trust, donated $10,000 and funded printing of brochures which were given to patients – attracting a number of smaller donations. The Trust Deed specified that the funds were held in trust by NZ Insurance Co (later to become Guardian Trust).

In January 1973, Inland Revenue agreed to make donations to the Couch Trust tax deductible and the Trust was recognised as a Charitable Trust. The initial Trustees were Arthur Couch, Kevin O’Brien and Gaby Tetro (Arthur Couch’s G.P.).

Auckland Hospital Cardiology staff helped to attract donations to the Trust with the intent to help fund hospital equipment such as Cardiac ultrasound.

In 1986 Professor P. J. Scott joined the Board of Trustees; In 1998 – after the death of Dr Tetro, Dr Warren Smith joined the Board of Trustees.

Arthur Couch retired as a Trustee in 1998 and was replaced by Dr Pat Frengley. Kevin O’Brien retired in 2013.

In 2001, the Couch Trust received a legacy of approximately $75,000 from the Estate of Alan Frederick Rolfe who been a patient of Kevin O’Brien.

Each year since its inception, the Trust has made grants for education and research in the field of cardiovascular disease.

- Kevin O’Brien

Jill & Arthur Couch

Jill Couch tells the story of her husband's heart attack, and how it led to the birth of the A. H. Couch Auckland Heart Trust.

Arthur was rushed into Auckland Hospital with a serious heart attack in 1972.


Under the guidance of his GP, Gaby Tetro, and cardiologist, Kevin O’Brien, Arthur spent quite some time recuperating from this traumatic experience.


On waking up to realise he had survived, he observed all the splendid support he was receiving from the doctors, nurses, and other staff.  Without all of them combined he felt one’s survival would not be so positive.


Whilst resting day after day in his room he was feeling sad and depressed and felt the room didn’t have an uplifting feeling with no art on the wall to look at.


Staff explained to him that heart patients often feel depressed as part of the condition they are going through, and things would improve for him eventually.


That was when Arthur decided to provide financial support for a wide range of  Cardiology Department needs – from assisting practitioners to attend key research conferences, to improving staff skills on new cardiac diagnostic equipment. Arthur’s new trust even proved to be a stimulus for more art on the hospital walls.


Arthur passed away in November 2002, aged 86 years, but the work of the A.H. Couch Auckland Heart Trust continues. For nearly 50 years, the trust has supported Auckland Hospital cardiology and now North Shore Hospital cardiology as well. Every new donation to the trust helps further Arthur’s dream of making sure every person admitted with heart illness will be treated in the same comforting way he experienced all those years ago, with highly-educated practitioners and support staff keeping the survival rate as high as possible.