He may now live in Lower Hutt, but Northland will always be in Gerry Brackenbury's heart and it's his 40 years of volunteer work in the region that has seen him made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit.

Mr Brackenbury's 40 years of service to conservation and natural history in Whangarei and Northland on a voluntary basis saw him earn the accolade in today's Queen's Birthday Honours list.

"To paraphrase Sir Isaac Newton, conservationists and those who have a passion for natural history stand on the shoulders of giants. We are inspired by such greats as Sir David Attenborough, Gerald Durrell and Jacques Cousteau. Closer to home we have had the pioneering work of the late Don Merton, David Crockett and down the road Wade Doak and Jeroen Jongejans," Mr Brackenbury said of his honour.

"Northland is a truly special place, an island really. Whether it is Limestone Island, the Poor Knights or the Three Kings, our island refuges hold our precious biodiversity, waiting to come home, and it is the dedicated work of our many conservation volunteers that will bring them home, for the sake of our children and their children."


He said he has always worn a "green dog-collar", torn between the natural world and the human condition. "I would like to accept this special honour on behalf of the many, many volunteers around Northland who strive quietly but with heroic determination in all weathers to make sure our unique taonga remain warm under the kahu kiwi."

Mr Brackenbury has been a committee member and chairman of the Whangarei Museum and Heritage Park Society, and during his tenure he oversaw the society's move to a trust. He was a founder of the northern branch of Royal Forest and Bird Society and instigated a project for turning Motu Matakohe/Limestone Island into a refuge for biodiversity.