A registered architect since 1995, James was made a Fellow of the NZIA (2005) at the age of 35. He was a member of the NZIA Practice Task Group, which provided NZIA members with the various contracts used by the profession and prepared practice notes for its members.
In 2003, James was a member of the Building Industry Authority B2 Durability Working Group, and in 2010 spoke at an international conference on school architecture in Australia alongside Deputy Secretary Ministry of Education Apryll Parata and TKKM O Te Waiu O Ngati Porou principal Phil Heeney.
James has a strong interest in the restoration and conservation of New Zealand’s built heritage and has undertaken numerous restoration projects in the district including churches and marae.
He chairs the national Historic Places Aotearoa and Historic Places Tairawhiti Inc.
James received the NZIA President’s Award in 2016 for his advocacy of the John Scott Aniwaniwa visitor centre.