Former Napier Boys' High School pupil Dr George Ngaei has been recognised in the New Zealand Honours for a second time in five years.
In the Queen's Birthday Honours list released on Monday, the Southland surgeon was named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to health and the Pacific community.
He had been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours.
Ngaei arrived in Auckland aboard a ship from Rarotonga as a 12-year-old destined to board at Hawke's Bay's biggest school, and was thrust into an agricultural course for two years before staff began to appreciate the family background. His father was also a doctor.
He made the first XV at rugby in 1961, and spoke at the team's reunion in Napier last year.
He told the Otago Daily Times the most rewarding part of his job is being in the privileged position of having an impact on people's lives.
It was only after beginning a career in agriculture that he changed tack to follow a path into medicine.
"I milked cows, I did all those things for almost two years until they allowed me to study subjects related to what I really wanted," he said.
He had been involved in improving Maori and Pacific health as a practising general surgeon in Invercargill, but also travels to Rarotonga each year to offer his expertise on medical issues for those living there.
In 2002 he established a Pacific Island Specialist Nursing Service and has been chairman of Pacific Island Advisory and Cultural Trust (PIACT) since 2007.
The surgeon has been chairman of the South Island Pacific Providers Collective since 2014 and was a committee member of the Auckland-based Cook Islands Health Network Association.
He was also a representative for the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) on the Southland Medical Foundation, among numerous other positions on medical and welfare authorities.