Although scientists, judges and comedians topped the list, Hawke's Bay justice campaigner Garth McVicar ranked a respectable 22nd on a list of the most trusted New Zealanders.
But two other Bay personalities, broadcaster Paul Holmes and sometime resident Paul Henry, didn't fare so well.
The annual Reader's Digest survey ranks 100 well-known New Zealanders according to how much they are trusted.
Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar came in just behind former All Black Brian Lochore and ahead of children's author Margaret Mahy.
He was seen as more trustworthy than Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker and Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, but less than radio host Jay-Jay Feeney and celebrity chef Simon Gault.
It was step up from last year's 34th-equal with Chief High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann and Close Up host Mark Sainsbury.
Mr McVicar said he'd heard the list was out but hadn't given a thought to where he'd been ranked.
He said his ranking was recognition of the work of the Sensible Sentencing Trust.
"It's an idea that's time had come and the fantastic support we're getting throughout the country has enabled us to achieve what we've achieved."
Mr McVicar fared much better than other Hawke's Bay personalities, who were ranked in the bottom 10 per cent by survey respondents.
Broadcaster and Hawke's Bay resident Paul Holmes came in at 91, following Prime Minister John Key at 90.
He just pipped television personality and occasional Bay resident Paul Henry, who ranked at 92 - a nosedive from last year's ranking of 67.
No1 on the list was scientist and 2010 New Zealander of the Year Sir Ray Avery, followed by government chief science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman, and physicist Sir Paul Callaghan.
Last year's list was topped by Victoria Cross recipient Corporal Willie Apiata, who this year went down to 14.
The survey also ranked professions, with firefighters once again the most trusted, followed by rescue volunteers and paramedics.
Journalists and real estate agents rounded out the bottom of the list.
The survey is carried out by McCrindle Research, which sampled 531 people, who were given the list of 100 well-known New Zealanders and asked to rank them on a scale from one to 10.
Director of Research New Zealand, Emanuel Kalafatelis, said he was surprised by the results.
"Historically, New Zealanders haven't had a love affair with scientists, and sportspeople always rate highly - we like that the Kiwi international sports star could be the kid from around the corner. So this is difficult to explain."
However, a recession, the Pike River Mine disaster and the Christchurch earthquakes could reflect a more serious mood, he said.
"In serious times you look to people who are rocks."