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The officer in charge of Auckland's busy central-city police station is still struggling to understand why he was picked for a royal honour.

"I'm very honoured and very proud, but to a certain extent you always think, 'Why me?"' said Senior Sergeant Ross Barnaby of his Queen's Service Medal.

The career policeman is obliged to keep silent about much of his work, which includes more than two decades in the elite anti-terrorism division of the armed offenders squad and is the reason for his appearance in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Instead, Mr Barnaby speaks highly of the teamwork he has seen in his counter-terrorism work and as a member of the Auckland police.

"Working in a close-knit team, you can rely in your teammates to pull you through if you start to wane."

These days, he is back in uniform and focused on day-to-day crime and what hecalls "keeping the wheels of industry turning" at Auckland Central police station. He refuses to take credit for the reduction in crime that led Auckland City Mayor John Banks to commend central-city policing this year.

"I'm a small player in that, let's be honest," Mr Barnaby said.

He provided security for the United States delegation to Apec in 1999 and was seconded for his anti-terrorist skills to the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. The 50-year-old credits his "lovely" wife and children aged 13 and 14 for putting up with the constant travel his job entailed for many years.