Like many who have been recognised over the years, Kaitaia GP Dr Ian Smit wasn't sure last week that he deserved a royal honour.

Dr Smit, who received the Queens's Service Medal for services to health, said he did not "particularly" do anything that other doctors in the community didn't, and he was part of a team.

His citation, however, made note of the free clinic he has provided from a converted garage at Ahipara every week for 14 years, and where he remains until every patient has been seen, as well as playing his role at the Kaitaia Health Centre and contributing to the after-hours service at Kaitaia Hospital.

He was recognised, the citation said, for his energy, empathy, commitment, his ability to cross cultural barriers and willingness to put the needs of others first.


Dr Smit said the Ahipara clinic was well patronised, and was a worthy alternative to a weekly round of golf. (He's not actually a golfer but does enjoy fishing and jogging ).

Receiving the QSM was an "absolute honour", he said, adding it was humbling to be nominated by members of the community and his peers.

Born in South Africa (but now avowedly tangata whenua), he worked for the Anglo American mining company in Botswana's Kalahari Desert for eight years before emigrating to New Zealand with his wife, Nan, and their family 17 years ago. Initially he worked as an anaesthetist and in medicine at Kaitaia Hospital, but 14 years ago joined the Kaitaia Health Centre, when Dr Tom Young retired.