Palmerston North will always be a city that opened doors for Dr Jeremy Hill, who was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the dairy industry and scientific research on the Queens Birthday honours list.

Dr Hill, the only New Zealander to hold the position of President and Chairman of the International Dairy Federation (IDF) in its 117-year history, came to the "Knowledge City" almost by chance.

The 57-year-old was born in Yorkshire and by his own admission wasn't the most studious of youngsters, but knuckled down in his later years at secondary school, unleashing a flair for the sciences.

He was forever grateful to his parents for supporting his early study years at Hull University in the 1980s, where his biochemistry studies into the effects of alcohol on the liver piqued the interest of a Massey University professor, and he was invited to New Zealand.

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In a twist of fate, directly across the road from Massey University was the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute, which housed equipment useful to his experimental studies, and where he could put his research and ideas to test.

His potential was obvious and didn't go unnoticed. Over morning tea one morning he was offered a job, which lead to research contracts with the New Zealand Research Institute.

"The director at the institute, over morning tea, said we have a research role you might be interested in. I will never forget that," he said.

And so began a journey that would see Dr Hill become an international figure fronting dairy science and sustainability and nutritional research - he has more than 100 published works - that has been hugely important to the dairy industry worldwide.

In the meantime, Dr Hill's wife Vivienne had taken a job teaching at Freyberg High School. They took a liking to Palmerston North and the New Zealand way of life, so decided to stay on for a few more years.

"Thirty years later ..." he said.

''I am truly honoured to be recognised in this way, but it is also recognition for the many talented people I have had the opportunity to work with over the years," he said.

"It has been a real privilege working with smart and capable people globally that have helped me. You never do anything by yourself. It is always in collaboration with other people," he said.

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"It is also recognition for the enormous support I have received from my parents and my wife Vivienne."

Dr Hill said he enjoyed working on a scientific problems that have a commercial application.

His studies into nutrition and the proteins in milk contributed to the formation of the successful A2 Milk Corporation as well as numerous processing and product innovations in Fonterra.

He was originally involved with IDF in science roles, progressing to global sector leadership roles, including the IDF presidency. He was elected to the IDF board in 2001 and was president from 2012 to 2016.

A key achievement in his role as IDF president saw Dr Hill broker the FAO/Global Dairy Industry Declaration of Rotterdam in 2016, a commitment and blueprint for sustainable environmentally aware future dairy production and nutrition.

He was a founding governor for the Global Dairy Agenda for Action (GDAA) on sustainability from 2014 and chaired the GDAA Advisory Board from 2015 to 2017.

Dr Hill has been Fonterra Chief Science and Technology Officer since 2007 and throughout his career worked with New Zealand universities and the science and government sectors.

He was a member of the Board responsible for overseeing the New Zealand Dairy Industry Postgraduate Training Programme and member of the advisory Boards for the University of Auckland Postgraduate Dairy School and Massey University School of Engineering and Advanced Technology.

Dr Hill was appointed Adjunct Professor, Sustainable Nutrition, Riddet Institute, Massey University in 2018

Meanwhile, their son Xavier is showing a similar flair for science & technology, currently juggling two degrees - one in Engineering and one in Biotechnology - at the University of Queensland in Brisbane.