Melville Aiken was born in Palmerston North. His parents were Frederick Parkes Aiken, an accountant and his wife Grace Elizabeth née Morton. Melville was educated at Hamilton High School and Otago University, graduating in 1927. He was a house surgeon at Wellington Hospital 1927 to 1929 and had further post-graduate experience in London at the Greenwich Seamen’s Hospital 'Dreadnought' in 1929 to 1930.
After gaining his London membership in 1931 he returned to New Zealand and to a general practice in Kaiapoi near Christchurch. These were depression years and payment was often non-monetary, sometimes in whitebait. In 1939 he moved to Christchurch but war was imminent. From 1941 Melville was a medical officer in the 2nd NZEF, serving in North Africa and Italy with the rank of Major. At war’s end he resumed his appointment as visiting medical officer and physician to Christchurch Hospital where he remained until his retirement in 1962.
Melville Aiken had developed an interest in psychiatry and with the late Dr David Livingstone was a pioneer in the private practice of this specialty. He was a visiting psychiatrist to Christchurch prisons, he also promoted and was from early days involved with the Marriage Guidance Movement and worked with troubled youngsters as visiting psychiatrist to the Child Welfare Division Christchurch.
As well as being a keen gardener with an interest in native plants, he was interested in music and photography and designed and made toys. His wife Margaret Anna predeceased him and there were two daughters of the marriage.
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