Dr Joe was Katikati’s doctor for more than 40 years. Born in Austria, Dr Joseph Burstein trained at the famous Vienna Medical School and, following persecution by the Nazis after the German takeover of Austria in 1938, he escaped to New Zealand.
Here he had to retrain to practice medicine and worked as a hospital orderly in Dunedin while gaining the necessary qualification. He set up practice in Katikati and tended the sick both here and on Matakana Island. Patients even travelled from Auckland to be treated by him. Often brusque and gruff, his dedication won the hearts of the people to whom he was affectionately known as Dr Joe. A talented pianist, he wrote two unpublished fully orchestrated symphonies.
He was the moving spirit behind the Katikati Amateur Musical and Dramatic Society, which flourished in the 1940s, and 50s, and where he demanded the highest standards. He practised medicines until he was over 80 and died in 1987 aged 85. The artist lived in Katikati as a child and had Dr Joe as her family doctor.