Coromandel chief fire officer John Walker thought someone was playing a joke on him when he got a letter asking him to accept a Queen's Service Medal.
The Coromandel Town resident, a plumber who has been involved with the fire brigade for 41 years and fire chief for 24 years, said he put into the community what he got out of it.
Mr Walker is one of several Waikato people recognised in today's Queen's Birthday Honours list.
Hamilton resident Roderick Bryant is awarded a Queen's Service Medal for his long service to the New Zealand Fieldays Society, including his role as president between 2004 and 2006, when he led a campaign aimed at attracting international visitors to the event.
Long-time Te Aroha resident Judith Finn has struggled to keep her QSM a secret and said her children's reactions had been "wow" when she told them on the phone yesterday afternoon.
The 77-year-old is recognised for her service to a range of community groups including Te Aroha Red Cross Society and the District Senior Citizens Association - all which she said began from when her children started school and she joined the PTA.
Hemi Hema has been recognised with a QSM for inspiring deaf Maori and their families.
Mr Hema, who is deaf, moved to Hamilton from Christchurch in 2009 to be closer to his iwi and became president of Deaf Aotearoa Incorporated and an advocate to improve opportunities for deaf Maori.
Hamilton women Ruahine Albert and Ariana Simpson have been given Queen's Service Medals for their work with women's refuge services.
They were the foundation members of New Zealand's first Maori Women's Refuge, Te Whakaruruhau, which opened in Hamilton in 1987.
A vet, a doctor and a motor vehicle expert are among other Waikato people recognised.
Robert Renwick was getting groceries on the eve of today's announcement that he had been made a Member of New Zealand Order of Merit.
The Hamilton man has spent 30 years updating training models for the motor vehicle collision repair industry to keep the industry up to date with the newest technology.
Dr Ronald Gibson, chairman of the Veterinary Council , is made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for service to veterinary services.
Tracey Houpapa's MNZM recognises her commitment to business and Maori.
Morrinsville resident Janet Jensen was also made an MNZM, recognising her work in the community.
Cambridge resident Dr Robert Bruce Morrison (MNZM) is recognised for services to medicine and the community including 40 years as a general practitioner in Gisborne.
Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit
* Dr Ronald George Gibson, services to veterinary science.
Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit
* Robert Hedley Renwick, services to the motor vehicle industry.
* Dr Robert Bruce Morrison, services to medicine and the community.
* Janet Muriel Jensen, services to the community.
* Tracey Tania Houpapa, services to business and Maori.
Queen's Service Medal
* Roderick de Bolton Bryant, services to the community.
* Ruahine Albert, services to Maori and the community.
* Ariana Simpson, services to Maori and the community.
* Hemi Hema, services to the deaf.
* Judith Eirene Finn, services to the community.
* John Allan Walker, services to the community.