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The President's Badge of Office

Written by Dr Bramwell Cook - Society Archivist

This badge of office was presented to Dr H Bramwell Cook, then President of the New Zealand Society of Gastroenterology, by Dr Brian P Billington, President of the Australian Gastroenterology Society, at the combined Societies dinner held on Friday, 20 February, 1976, at the Rose Gardens, Auckland. In his speech Dr Billington described the badge of office:

On behalf of the Gastroenterological Society of Australia I would like to make a presentation to the President of the New Zealand Society, as a token of goodwill.

It seemed that New Zealand Gastroenterology could be represented in the form of a President’s badge of office.

The red box signifies perhaps blood without which gastroenterologists cannot function.

It has a green ribbon to signify the bile, for hepatobiliary disorders constitute an important area in gastroenterology.

The badge bears the name ‘Apteryx’ which I am informed, is the name of the genus to which the kiwi belongs, a living bird with several species, i.e. with differing and variable types. (it was interesting that the smith, better educated then I, understood to what ‘Apteryx’ referred).

To signify the stomach, it seemed that the badge should be in silver, as silver has particular associations with the stomach. Silver nitrate was long used as the agent for titrating the chloride content of gastric juice. Moreover at the time New Zealand was being colonised and was beginning to develop silver salts were used as a symptomatic remedy for gastric disorders (1).

The form of the badge is a representation of the other end of the Kiwi’s alimentary tract. It took quite a lot of searching by Mrs. Holster, the Librarian of the College of Physicians in Sydney, after I had failed to find any diagram of the Kiwi’s alimentary tract. She found the reference in a 1975 book published in Switzerland (2). You will see that it shows the central column of rectum from which arise two caeca which pass down lateral to it. Before the rectum passes into Meckels tract (or small intestine), there is in Kiwis a loop, represented in the badge, passing forwards, down and up again. This loop in the intact animal comes to lie above the duodenum and is therefore called the supra-duodenal loop, and it is this loop which is characteristic and specific of the Kiwi.

Armed with a line diagram, the badge was made for us by a silversmith, Baron Wal Von Heckeren of Sydney, and I hope that you will accept and wear it as representing New Zealand Gastroenterology which we hold in great respect in Australia.

1. Ballard, E (1854). Pain after food. Walton & Maberly.
2. Mitchell, P C  (1901). On the Intestinal Tract of Birds. Trans. Linnean Soc. London. (Zoology), Vol 5, p 173–275.


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