Dr John Childs finds relaxing with his wife Linda at their Whareora lifestyle block on the outskirts of Whangarei provides a fine break from his intense work as a radiation oncologist.
"This is a great area to live. I get time out to reflect on things," he said.
Dr Childs, 60, who was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to health in the New Year Honours list, is the Ministry of Health's clinical director for the national cancer programme.
He spends three days a week in Wellington providing the director-general of health, the ministry and Health Minister Tony Ryall with leadership and advice on issues relating to cancer control.
Dr Childs was born in Auckland, spent his childhood in Wellington, lived in Melbourne for 12 years and returned to Wellington before studying at the Auckland Medical School.
A past chairman of the National Cancer Treatment Working Party and a member of the Cancer Control Steering Committee from 2001-03, he has been a specialist radiation oncologist at Auckland Hospital since 1991.
He has also on the council of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists.
For the past decade Dr Childs has been providing oncology services in Northland with regular clinics at Whangarei Hospital, assessing patients who need radiation treatment which he provides for them in Auckland.
He said he particularly enjoyed working in Northland because the region has a large population of Maori and people from deprived backgrounds and his duties include improving services for Maori.
"It's very grounding for me having a base in the North."
Dr Childs was "humbled and grateful" over his award, which he considered a "nice reward" for the team he worked with on the national cancer programme.