The "first knight of lifesaving" was among nearly 50 New Zealanders honoured in investiture ceremonies at Government House in Wellington yesterday.
Sir Bob Harvey was dubbed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his 58 years with Surf Lifesaving New Zealand.
"I'm the first knight of lifesaving in 103 years, and I carry that very proudly," he said.
Sir Bob served six terms as Mayor of Waitakere City.
Others honoured included the driving force behind Christchurch's "Farmy Army", John Hartnell, who received the insignia of a Member of the order, and former Act leader Rodney Hide, a Companion of the Queen's Service Order.