Former Hawke's Bay basketball player Patrick O'Brien has dedicated a large part of his adult life to making his community a better place.

Despite being reluctant to accept the recognition, having been asked a few times, Mr O'Brien was convinced this time round.

Featured in the month of March, the athlete notes that it is "always nice to be recognised for what you do. It is an honour to be in it and to represent where I am from."

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Among other things, he is the founder and organiser of "Battle for Life", which is the longest-running boxing event in Hawke's Bay.

"It is a unconventional charitable health initiative I created. Through the Battle For Life we endeavour to provide a platform to address social and health issues facing our people and look to inspire positive change in our community," he said.

It raises much-needed funds to help address local health and social issues, including diabetes, child cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer, and for the past three years they have raised funds for suicide prevention.

It is administered by the Anahera o Te Rangi Charitable Trust, founded by Mr O'Brien and his wife, Theresa, in memory of their late daughter.

Mr O'Brien also runs The Lab, whose building is the oldest operating gym facility in Hawke's Bay.

"The Lab is a place for development, a place to recreate yourself physical, mentally and even spiritually. It's amazing seeing people transform themselves in all aspects."

He also works extensively alongside disadvantaged youth, individuals and families, giving them a sense of value and importance.