When Rotorua's Dr Janette Irvine started medical school in the 1970s she was told she was only there to find a husband and then she would drop out.
Many of her classmates, then made up of only 30 per cent women, had stuck their noses up at females in the profession at her time as they believed they had taken the spot of a more deserving man.
"It stuck with me. It was not how it was going to be. It felt as though I had to prove myself as a woman in a way and that was not right."
From then on, her lifelong passion for women's equality was born.
Close to 50 years later, Irvine has fulfilled an incredible 36-year medical career and as an advocate for women's rights has made pivotal changes to women's health across the country.
Now she is being made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to women and women's health in this New Year's honourees.
Irvine was a general practitioner in Rotorua for 36 years, owning a practice in Pukehangi until 2016. She has seen close to "four generations" of the community come in and out of her doors over her career.
In her first year out of medical school in 1981, she was invited to join Rotorua's Zonta Club, a local branch of the international service organisation with the mission of advancing the status of women.
From listening to successful women guest speakers to meeting women from all walks of life, her passion for Zonta grew and after some time she was made Zonta New Zealand's District Governor.
She represented the country at conferences in places like the United States and France, as well as growing membership in the country's 28 clubs.
A particular highlight for Irvine was on Zonta International's centennial year - the clubs chose 100 women of achievement, to which Irvine was named as one of them for her advocacy and service.
"That really was special."
Irvine's work impacts on women's health to this day.
She was a big part of the push to establish a service for sexual abuse victims, giving them the option to have female examiners, back in the 1980s.
At the time it was primarily men who did the examinations.
She got together with five other local women GPs in the city to make a roster to take turns in doing the four-hour examinations, often in the middle of the night.
"I felt it was really necessary to give these victims, who were more often than not women themselves, the option."
Irvine also played a huge part in setting up the Sophie Elliott Foundation's "Loves Me Not" programme in schools.
Sophie Elliott, 22, was stabbed to death by ex-boyfriend Clayton Weatherston in Dunedin in 2008. The programme was designed for Year 12 students to discuss relationship abuse and how to take action for change.
Throughout her career and into her retirement, Irvine was heavily involved with the national Women's Empowerment Programme and was still approaching the city's chief executives to discuss progress in women's equality in the workplace and pay equity.
She says some have been extremely invested in the cause while others were not so much.
"I know for many it is not a priority right now as they are just trying to stay afloat, but it is still important.
"This is, of course, to further advance gender equality, which is close to my heart."
She believes the cause will be more important than ever next year as such a large portion of those unemployed as a result of Covid-19 are women, as a result of the services worst affected.
Irvine has never really stopped giving, however she says for the first time in her life she is allowing herself to slow down, but only a little.
Although advocacy remains her priority, her love for gardening, mosaic art, photography and tramping are high on her agenda this summer.
"I have so many lovely places in my garden to sit and read, I can finally do that."
However, Irvine has been working behind the scenes on a local project to help women suffering from violence.
With help from Zonta Club, Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust, Rotorua Lakes Council and others - she has had 400 "are you ok?" signs made, displaying the phone numbers of places like Women's Refuge, to be placed in women's public toilets across the city.
She says this allows women in trouble to privately note down the numbers or call if they are in tied up with violence.
She has secured funding for 200 more signs and is exploring getting bilingual signs made for local marae.
She says she wishes there was no need for the signs and that "every woman was able to live her life free of violence, which has a major effect on the physical and mental health of many women globally."