John Kerr was surprised to receive a Queen's Service Medal for services to health and the community.

"I try not to have a high profile," Dr Kerr said. "I see myself very much as a team player."

Active in the Hawke's Bay community since the 1970s, he was an emergency doctor for St John Ambulance and the Hawke's Bay Rescue Helicopter Trust for more than 20 years, while also a general practitioner.

"I used to be a GP in Napier for 22 years and in that role I was very involved with St John and the rescue service," he said. "I did a lot of maternity work as well but as time went by I became increasingly involved in workplaces. Fourteen years ago I sold my practice and started my specialty training in occupational medicine."


Occupational medicine specialists focus on preventive medicine and management of workplace-related illness, injury or disability.

As a consultant, he has responsibilities with the Hawke's Bay District Health Board and large workplaces in the East Coast and Central regions.

In the 1990s, Dr Kerr volunteered with Mercy Ships to help restore cyclone-hit Samoa's health and infrastructure.

He was Hawke's Bay Deer Farmers' Association chairman from 1983-86 and a New Zealand Deer Farmers' Association council member from 1986-89.

In the 1990s he chaired Christian Lovelink Hastings, which co-ordinates the provision of community social and material needs, and went on to chair the national body. He has been Australian and New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine president and Hawke's Bay Hospital Chaplaincy Service Local Support Committee chairman. In 2008 he trained doctors in occupational medicine in Egypt.

On his Hastings property he has converted a barn into a cinema, which is used for events such as musical performances and film screenings to raise funds for local causes.

He is a Fellow of the Facility of Occupational Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians (Ireland), a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and a recipient of the John Stoke Award for Excellence in Occupational Medicine Practice.