The former long-serving head of EIT has been honoured for the work he put in over more than a decade to successfully grow the tertiary education institute - in both size and stature.

Napier-based Bruce Martin, who was chief executive of the Eastern institute of Technology (EIT) from 1991 to 2004, becomes a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to tertiary education.

The CEO role saw him building positive relationships and partnerships - both locally and nationally - and working to lower fees for the region's school leavers through the provision of scholarships at the Taradale-based institute.

Mr Martin said he was privileged to "work with a whole lot of really good people" during a period when EIT had the opportunity to "capitalise on the options that were there".

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"Timing counts for a lot and I was fortunate that I went to EIT - or Hawke's Bay Polytechnic as it was then - at a point when a whole lot of things were coming together that opened up a wide range of opportunities," he said.

"In the early stages EIT offered primarily a range of certificate and diploma-level programmes and it was great to see both a broadening of the range of programmes across disciplines but also a deepening of the options in terms of levels. Moving from a base that was predominantly certificate level through to a greater number of diplomas and under-graduate and post-graduate offerings was a significant change over that period," he said.

"I feel very privileged that I was able to be a part of all that."

Since leaving EIT, Mr Martin has worked as a tertiary education sector consultant, based in Hawke's Bay, and has chaired the board of the Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics Quality.

He has also devoted his time to community organisations, including Rotary, and sits on the Hawke's Bay District Law Society's standards committee. "It's good to see EIT continuing to prosper and grow. There are a lot of really good people out there and that's great for Hawke's Bay," he said.