Radiant Living’s onetime following included family of Everest conquester – Stuff.co.nz

MEMORY LANE: On Saturday, September 28, 1940 a cool day in Palmerston North, in the second year of World War II, with rain showers predicted the Manawat Standard ran this news item: On Wednesday, in the PDC tearooms, Mr Herbert Sutcliffe, food scientist and international lecturer, direct from Great Britain and America, will deliver a lecture entitled: Devitalised and Diseased at 40 Why?

Mr Sutcliffe is the founder of 26 schools of Radiant Living throughout the world, and in his lectures explains the needs of the body and how to supply those needs in a sane, scientific and practical manner. A feature of the lecture will be a display of radiant foods, and special, appetising salads.

With that, Palmerston North was introduced to the concept of Radiant Living, which advocated a diet of fresh vegetables and fruits, a regime of physical fitness and a positive-thinking mindset with a Christian component.

The Standard reporter went along to the crowded lecture, held upstairs at the Premier Drapery Company building to be re-invented, many years later, as The Plaza and his story was published on October 4.

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Sutcliffe, founder of Radiant Living, delivered a lecture to an intrigued Palmerston North audience in 1940.

The paramount thought in every mind today, Sutcliffe, 54, emphasised, is that we must do something about the terrible catastrophe through which the world is passing.

He stressed the importance of building healthy bodies and vital minds, and congratulated New Zealanders on this score.

De-vitalisation was the enemy, he said. We must, and should, do something about despondency, hesitation, fear and hopelessness.

It was strange, Sutcliffe said, that if God gave us health, and the intelligence to maintain it, around the age of 40 to 45, we produce ailments... It seems we have a body to hang clothes on, but not to keep in good order... All kinds of ailments are due to devitalisation, such as the common cold, congestion of the body causing constipation and inflammation, which is natures warning.

There was no need, Sutcliffe said, for anyone to have rheumatism, arthritis, liver and kidney troubles everyone should have a clean body and this could be done by watching what went into the mouth.

Right thinking and a knowledge of the right foods and how to eat them are essential to good health.

The speaker, noted the reporter, mentioned the value of citrus fruits one of the finest fruits for maintaining health.


Radiant Living advocated a diet of fresh vegetables and fruits, alongside healthy living and exercise.

Fresh salads were displayed in the meeting room and afterwards questions were asked and answered.

Bad soil? Dont get hot and bothered by deficiencies there may be in your soils Sutcliffe advised. This is a wonderful country and you have beautiful sunshine and surroundings. If you complain about the good things God has given you and refuse to adapt to conditions, its you who are lacking.

Harmonise yourself with conditions and you can get health... Dont fill your minds with slights and blame someone else for your troubles. I am here to build up health and prove that you can get it.

Just who was this health pioneer, many of whose ideas on overall wellness are echoed in a new form, with a new audience, today?

Sutcliffe was born in Lincolnshire, England, in 1886. He sang in the local cathedral choir and worked as a telegraph engineer, but emigrated to Australia as a young man and married Hilda Wilson there in 1915. They had two children.

He joined the Australian Psychology Society and gained a doctorate in this subject in 1931. Later, sponsored by the Ohio-based International New Thought Alliance, he studied for a further doctorate, in divinity.

He became convinced of the link between mind, body, spirit and nutrition, and lectured widely on this topic, setting up schools of what he termed Radiant Living in the US, Canada and Hong Kong. After coming to New Zealand in 1938 he founded another 12 schools.


An early version of the Edmonds cookbook. Thomas Edmonds followed Sutcliffes lifestyle teachings.

In Christchurch, baking-powder entrepreneur Thomas Edmonds was a fan of Sutcliffes lifestyle teachings. He formed the Christchurch Radiant Heath Club and financed the citys Radiant Theatre. Coincidentally, both Sutcliffe and Edmonds used a brilliant rising-sun illustration as their public motif today its still iconic as the cover picture on the famous Edmonds cookery book.

In Auckland, the Hillary family joined the organisation, with Gertrude Hillary as secretary and her teenage son Edmund, later conqueror of Everest, training as a Radiant Living teacher, although he soon withdrew from the movement.

Following Sutcliffes 1940 talk in Palmerston North, a local chapter of Radiant Living was formed and, in May 1941, Edmund Hillarys sister June gave a talk at the PDC rooms now the permanent meeting venue of the group entitled How are you thinking? The radiant road to success and prosperity.


Edmund Hillary, for a time in his younger days, subscribed to the Radiant Living lifestyle.

Sutcliffe eventually bought a large, gracious house on 26 acres (10 hectares) of orchards and organic gardens in Havelock North, to serve as his home and the New Zealand headquarters of the Radiant Living movement. He named it Peloha standing for Peace, Love and Harmony.

Now a widower, he married his secretary, Phyllis Farley.

For 40 years, health retreats, lectures and classes were held at Peloha, but after Sutcliffes death in 1971, the once-numerous Radiant Living followers slowly faded away.

In 1981 Phyllis Sutcliffe also died and the Peloha estate was sold to the Weleda company, manufacturers of herbal medicines and health supplements.

Today, Sutcliffe is largely forgotten, although his legacy lives on in a new generations focus on physical and emotional wellness.

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