Despite a distinguished career spanning more than 50 years, Dr David Taylor was taken aback by his inclusion on this year's New Year Honours list.
The retired Rotorua pathologist has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to pathology and Maori.
He is one of six people in the region to be named in the New Year Honours list today. Other recipients include Lisa Carrington from Whakatane, Daphne Christophers formerly from Rotorua but now living in Tauranga, Miyoko Hammersley from Rotorua, Selina (Sally) Webb from Whakatane and Lynette Bowe from Taupo.
Dr Taylor has known about the honour since last month, after being nominated by an unknown person or people, but said he was still shocked.
"It's nice to think that what little work you have done has been appreciated. It's satisfying but I am still amazed."
Dr Taylor's list of achievements shows exactly why he was one of 61 New Zealanders to receive an honour this year.
Working as a pathologist in Rotorua from 1971 until his retirement in 2009, Dr Taylor was instrumental in providing culturally sensitive post-mortem services to iwi in the region.
"Maori families can be quite concerned when there had to be a post mortem, they wanted to be reassured and wanted to know what was going on and the outcome."
Although not Maori, Dr Taylor was adopted by a Maori woman as a baby in a whangai-type adoption.
He worked with Kirihaehae, the National Advisory Group on Autopsy, to improve services for whanau from a Maori perspective. He often performed post-mortem examinations outside regular hours so bodies could be released to families as quickly as possible.
Over the years he worked on several high profile cases, including the 1989 death of cricket umpire Peter Plumley-Walker which Dr Taylor said was "unpleasant but memorable".
Dr Taylor also advised on sudden infant death syndrome, was a member of the executive of the Waikato and Bay of Plenty Cancer Society and remains a committee member of the Pukehina Ratepayers Association.
He has been involved with the Rotorua Lakes Rotary Club for years and helped establish its Legionnaires Academy to help rehabilitate troubled young people. He is also the medical officer for the Rotorua Racing Club.
Retirement hasn't slowed down his community service, although it has given him more time to indulge his love of vintage cars. Asked if he misses his work, he says: "I'd done my time, it was time for someone active to take over."
His family will celebrate tonight with a dinner in Pukehina.
More great citizens honoured, page 4