Ray Beatson could not begin to count the hours he has given to others throughout his adult life, but his motivation has remained constant throughout.

"It's all about making a difference, isn't it?" he said after being named as a recipient of the Queen's Service Medal for service to the community and veterans. "I think it stems from growing up in a small community where people helped one another," he said.

Mr Beatson has lived in Auckland since 1982 but was born in Kaitaia. He grew up there and at Ahipara.

He attended Kaitaia College and was one of a swathe of old boys who volunteered for active service in Vietnam.

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The legacy of that service, and in Malaya and Borneo, includes unstinting support for fellow veterans.

"Commanding soldiers on active duty is an honour and a privilege, and a responsibility that doesn't go away," he said.

Mr Beatson, who received a Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Local Hero award in 2014, also counts himself fortunate to have received a good education in Kaitaia, giving him opportunities that he believes many young people today do not have.

He has served on PTAs and school boards, coached sports teams and individuals, has been involved with Cubs and Scouts, and almost half a century in Rotary has seen him support many education-focused programmes, along with the Special Olympics, Canteen, Project K and Outward Bound.

He also led the restoration of Kaitaia's WWI monument.