Andrew Lowe's passion for conservation has seen him named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

He was the driving force in the establishment of the 2500ha Cape Sanctuary wildlife restoration project at Cape Kidnappers.

It enabled the re-introduction of endangered wildlife species that once flourished at the Cape and Ocean Beach, and contains the greatest diversity of native birds on mainland coastal New Zealand.

A 10km predator-proof fence was established along with intensive vermin control. Sand dune ecosystems and coastal forest received urgent attention to prevent their loss to future generations.

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Speaking from a train in Verona while on a business trip, he told Hawke's Bay Today the honour was due to all those involved.

"A lot of people bought into the vision early on but it would never have happened without the landowners - philanthropist Julian Robertson put money into it - and iwi have been hugely supportive both locally and throughout the country," he said.

Agencies such as the Department of Conservation, local government and "hundreds of volunteer hours ... each week" were key ingredients.

It is the largest privately funded reserve of its type in New Zealand and an inspiration to others, managing to combine conservation with human habitation, recreation and food production.

"I think the success is other people are looking at it and saying, 'Wow - this is achievable."

His Cape Sanctuary model has now broadened into the Cape to City project which will encompass 26,000ha from the Hawke's Bay coast to Napier, Hastings and Havelock North.

He strives for a pest-free New Zealand and holds governance roles in similar projects throughout New Zealand.

He also holds a number of governance roles and has business interests in property development and farming.

As managing director of Lowe Corporation, one of New Zealand's largest privately owned meat byproduct processors, he continues his father Graeme's commitment to philanthropy.

Lowe Corporation is the principal sponsor of the Hawke's Bay Rescue Helicopter service, sponsors youth development, high performance sport, community initiatives, education, health and numerous other causes.

"I accept this award on behalf of everyone who has supported this project and without whom it would not have been such a success," he said.