Meet Your Executive

Posted Wednesday June 28, 2023

Tēnā koutou katoa,

Ko Rakahuri te awa, ko Maungatere te maunga. No Whakaoriori ahau, engari ko Papaioea e noho ana. Ko Catherine toku wahine, ko Ben raua ko Annabel ko Georgina toku tamariki. Ko Tākitimu te waka, ko Ngāi Tahu te iwi, ko Tuahiwi te marae. Ko James Irwin toku ingoa.

Greetings to you all! This is a little self-written biography to let you know a little bit about me, one of the members of your executive. I enjoy working on the executive to advance the practice of gastroenterology in our country - it is challenging and rewarding mahi undertaken with a small but passionate and hardworking team. I am proud of what we are able to achieve on your behalf.

I work as a part time (0.8 FTE) gastroenterologist in Papaioea/Palmerston North. My wife Catherine is a GP at our Rangitāne (iwi based) practice, and we have three teenagers (Ben, Annabel and Georgina), and Coco the dog in our household. On my mother's side I come from Kaiapoi (Tuahiwi marae, Ngāi Tahu), on my father's side from 5th generation Irish farming stock in Southland. I grew up in Masterton, where my father Rob was a general surgeon at the local hospital, and my mother Margaret a PE teacher.

Working part-time allows me to pursue activities outside of my work, which I value highly. At present much of my time is taken up coaching football - I used to be the most passionate footballer in our family, however that mantle is now taken by our children and it is quite time consuming (and fun) keeping up with them! I spend some time advocating for active transport at a local level - ensuring that urban planning prioritises people getting about on foot, on scooters and on cycles. To many this may seem like a fruitless and unpleasant activity. However, I enjoy helping influence what happens here, in a city with plenty of space for change. A further time-consuming activity may surprise some of you - perfume design! After a bumper crop of grapefruit one year, and incremental attempts to extract oil from their skins, to designing and building three stills, extraction of essential oil from foraged plants (manuka, fennel, yarrow, queen anne's lace for eg.) and cultivated plants (citrus, mint, lemon verbena, rose geranium, rock rose for eg.), to the challenge of distilling perfume grade ethanol, we finally have arrived at blending and designing perfume over the past year. Watch out for us in the duty-free section of Auckland International Airport in a couple of years time... We also love getting away from the hustle and bustle of Palmy, tramping and fishing in the Tararua and Ruahine forest parks.

Professionally, in addition to being on the executive of our society, I chair NEDS (our National Endoscopy Data Standardisation group) which works to standardise endoscopy data nationally, with a view to allow standardised audit, KPI reporting, and trainee accreditation to occur on a national level. I also sit on our NZSG equity roopu, and am super proud to have been part of getting this group up and running. Sometimes we may have been too busy in our day to day work, or in developing a new initiative, to fully consider whether it is equitable. Our equity roopu will help minimise this, providing an equity lens on the work of the NZSG as we move into the future.

Noho ora mai,

Dr. James Irwin


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