A Prescription for Action: The Life of Dr Janet Irwin by Susan Currie tells the fascinating life story of New Zealand born and trained Janet Irwin, medical doctor and social activist.
Born in 1923, Janet’s childhood in the Hokianga was free-ranging, but not without significant challenges, which may have influenced her subsequent interests in medicine. From her mother, Lucy, Janet inherited a voracious appetite for reading. Her father, “Doc Smith” (or “GM” as he was also known) was a legendary and revered doctor in the Hokianga in the early part of the twentieth century, when life there was remote and co-operation arose out of shared hardship. He had come from a farming background in Scotland and, like other early settlers in the area, he could be described as having been “successful in villainy, public service and philanthropy”: he was not above breaking the law in pursuit of what he considered the greater good. He was also charming, warm and empathetic, characteristics shared by his daughter. GM was an iconoclast, as was Janet, who had the gift of forcefully challenging ideas without creating offense.