For years, Eastern Bay residents have been asking Nikki Slade Robinson if she thought her parents would accept a Queen's Birthday or New Year Honours nomination.

Each time she has said no.

That's because Stuart and Margaret Slade prefer to do their work quietly in the background.

But this year the potters and conservationists will both receive the Queen's Service Medal.

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"I think this time around they took into account how many times it has been suggested and finally agreed," Nikki said.

However, while the honour goes to them, the couple are quick to emphasise it recognises the efforts of many others.

"It really is a demonstration of the power of what local communities can achieve with focus and enthusiasm," Stuart said.

"We were speechless when we first received the nomination, it came as a shock. We just like getting out and doing something to leave this part of the world in a better state, and we really enjoy the company of the others in the care group who share the same goals.

"On reflection we felt we should accept the award because it's important that environmental efforts are recognised in major awards."

For more than 15 years, the Slades have been heavily involved with the protection and restoration of the Nukuhou Saltmarsh, which sits at the southern end of Ōhiwa Harbour, across the road from their Cheddar Valley Pottery studio.

The saltmarsh is home to rare and endangered bird species and the couple have led the way in restoring the saltmarsh to a healthy state.

This included establishing and maintaining trap-lines, walkways and signage, the clearing of weed species and rubbish, and keeping records of species numbers.

The group has won a number of awards for its work and has extended to include care for the Nukuhou River margins and Uretara Island in Ōhiwa Harbour.

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The Slades are skilled potters and have created and donated life-sized replicas of many birds found within the saltmarsh, as well as an educational display for the lifecycle of whitebait.

They are both active members of Nga Tapuwae-o-Taneatua Tramping Club and have been key instigators of a project to re-establish native bush and a 2km-long scenic walk in the strip of land between Wainui Rd and the adjacent river.

Investiture may mean swapping muddy boots for something a little tidier, but in the meantime, they'll be out in the wetlands, continuing the valuable conservation work.