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Queen's Birthday Honours List

John Bain expects a bit of ribbing from his friends about the gong he has received.

"A bit of borax goes with the territory I suppose, and I will give as good as I get in good fun, so they better look out," Mr Bain said.

Joking aside, the man who got Northland's emergency helicopter service up and running, and has been involved with many community initiatives and sports developments, and has been a local government representative for many years, said being made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit came out of the blue.

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"It's an honour I didn't expect and I am humbled with the recognition as I have always had great people around me as part of a team to work with, right back to when it all started in the 1960s as a teenager raising enthusiasm and enough dollars to take a group to the National Surf Life Saving champs in Christchurch," he said.

"My wife, Jean, and family deserve part of this honour as they have supported, and sometimes gone without, to help with the projects I have been involved with."

His greatest satisfaction is from the success of the Northland Emergency Services Trust (NEST) rescue helicopters.

"There were times when, in the early days, I lay awake at night wondering how the pilots were going to be paid in a few days. Somehow we always just made it.

"Financially, we flew on the seats of our trousers for a long time, but now have a world-leading service. NEST board members over the 25 years gave me fantastic backing and now seeing the three helicopters flying all over our beautiful province, owned and operated by everyone, gives a great buzz too."

Mr Bain said people of all ages being able to participate in sport is important to him.

"So making sure children had good equipment, uniforms, and rooms to do their thing, and to have as good as the large cities had was a reason to be involved."

Involvement with junior sports led to roles at other levels.

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He is still on the Sport Northland board but has cut down hours elsewhere "to play a bit more myself the frustrating game of golf and the relaxing hobby of fly fishing. I hope to get better at both".

He is also a Northland Regional Councillor and Northland District Health Board member and formerly - nationally and regionally - The Order of St John, "a fantastic charity".