In memoriam: Dr Chris de Freitas, former Deputy Dean of Science (1948-2017)

11 July 2017
Chris de Freitas
Chris de Freitas

Christopher Rhodes de Freitas (1948 to 2017) died in Auckland, New Zealand on 5 July 2017, following a two-year struggle with cancer. He was married to Nancy de Freitas (nee Howard) with whom he had two sons, Colin Alexander de Freitas and Andrew Lawrence de Freitas.

Chris received his early education in Trinidad in the West Indies. He completed Bachelors and Masters degrees at the University of Toronto in Canada and a PhD at the University of Queensland in Australia as a Commonwealth Doctoral Scholar.

Colleagues and friends will remember him as a man of strong character, principled, loyal to his family and friends with West Indian wit and humour at the ready. He never lost his Caribbean accent completely.

His students appreciated him for his enthusiastic lecturing style, his high expectations that they should think for themselves, use sound logic, design their investigations well and above all, think critically. He was generous in support of their research endeavours, always available to discuss ideas or assist with problems they encountered in their work.

Chris’ own research interests covered a variety of themes. He has over 200 publications in the areas of applied climatology, bioclimatology, meteorology, environmental change, microclimatology and general review commentaries, including two recent books, New Environmentalism: Managing New Zealand’s Environmental Diversity, and Natural Hazards in Australasia. He was also an advocate of open and well informed reporting on scientific issues and has written extensively in newspapers and magazines on a variety of environment-related themes, including air quality, flood and drought hazards, environmental conservation and climate change. In recognition of this, he was three times the recipient of the New Zealand Association of Scientists, Science Communicator Award.

His research and writing continue to have an impact in the fields of climatology, bioclimatology and environmental change through the many journal publications and books he wrote during his long and distinguished career.

During his time at The University of Auckland he served as Deputy Dean of Science, Head of Science and Technology at the Tamaki campus and four years as Pro Vice Chancellor. He was Vice President of the Meteorological Society of New Zealand, Vice President of the International Society of Biometeorology and was co-founder of the Australia New Zealand Climate Forum. For 10 years he was an editor of the international journal 'Climate Research'.

Chris’ family requests that no flowers be sent. For anyone wishing to do so, donations can be made to Hospice North Shore where Chris and his family were so well looked after in the last weeks of his life.