Graeme "Noddy" Watts jokes it's not often that a petrolhead gets nominated for a Queen's Birthday honour.
But it's when driving past the many community organisations he's helped establish and support over the years that he's humbled by the thanks he received on Monday.
Noddy was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the community and charity fundraising.
"I just want to say thank you to everyone that was involved in the nomination," he said.
"I'm really proud for our community, friends and family, and obviously our festival and the car community.
"It's not often a petrolhead gets nominated for an award like that.
"There are a few people in town that don't really know me, it will be 30 years I've been here and every time I drive past the kindy I think 'we built that'. I was chair of the establishment committee, and that's something you can see. I'm really proud of that."
Noddy is president of the hugely successful Repco Beach Hop which has won the accolade of New Zealand's favourite event, and raised thousands of dollars for charitable local causes including the emergency service volunteers of Whangamata and surrounds.
A cheque presentation will be made to those local services on Sunday at the Whangamata Club by the Beach Hop committee, with televised coverage of the March 2021 event on the big screen for all to watch.
He and partner Andrea Ross organise other events such as the Scoot for Loot charity ride which provides money for Canteen, Whangamata Scouts, and teen suicide prevention among others.
When the Queen's Birthday honour was announced on Monday, he says there were some naysayers who do not enjoy the Beach Hop event.
But the announcement had brought out the best in most people.
"This event is our way of doing our part for our community. I think we all have a responsibility to our community. We're all about emergency services in our area because we understand our town needs to have systems to keep the beach safe, the boaties safe, the community able to access St Johns and the rescue helicopter. That's what the whole festival is about."
It's also, he agrees, about fun.
After all, how many other towns would close their main street to allow rock and roll dancing to take over?
"I'd rather be happy than doom and gloom. The festival is a chance for people to have a good time, and as I saw from some of the overseas media coverage of the Beach Hop during a year of Covid, people overseas look at the freedom we've got in New Zealand and it's put us on the map."
The couple celebrated with friends on Monday night in a 'throw-together' gathering at their Whangamata home.