The driving force behind the Far North Regional Museum - and the man credited with the original vision for Kaitaia's Te Ahu Centre - has been awarded a Queen's Service Medal for services to the community.
Phil Cross, who lives just outside Kaitaia, chairs the museum trust whose collection is now displayed in purpose-built premises at Te Ahu. Its exhibits include New Zealand's oldest confirmed European relic, an anchor lost off Whatuwhiwhi in 1769 by French sailor de Surville, and the Tangonge carving, one of New Zealand's oldest and most significant Maori artefacts.
Mr Cross was one of the founding members of the Te Ahu Charitable Trust, the group behind the $14 million museum, library, community hall, theatre, i-Site and council office complex which opened on South Rd last year. He was credited with coming up with the original idea which sprang from the museum's need for a purpose-built facility and the closure of a Forest Service pine nursery, the proceeds of which had to be invested in a project benefiting the Far North.
Mr Cross' role with the museum sometimes brings him into conflict with the mayor but he never falters in his defence of the collection.
The former bank manager has held many other roles in the community. He has served as deputy chairman of Te Hiku Community Board, was instrumental in establishing the Kaitaia Polocrosse Club, is an announcer for the Kaitaia A&P; Show and has been involved in the Far North Drug Resistance Education committee.
He has also backed many youth causes, including Kaitaia's Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Rangiawhia Outdoor Education Centre. He was chairman of the Young New Zealanders Foundation from 2000-2010 and chairs the Youth Achievement Trust of New Zealand. He now runs a tourism company.