For 18 people across the Bay of Plenty this Queen's Birthday holiday is a one-of-a-kind celebration.
Today they are recognised by the Queen for their service to the community and for achievements in their fields.
The Queen's Birthday Honours recipients from, or related to, the Bay of Plenty are:
Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit
Ruia Mereana Morrison, Rotorua, for services to tennis
Ruia Morrison was the first Māori to play at Wimbledon in 1957. She was inducted into the Māori Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. A special korowai bearing Morrison's name graces the shoulders of the ASB Classic women's singles champion each year. She volunteered her time as a coach and mentor to the tennis community and was involved with the Aotearoa Māori Tennis Championships for years.
Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit
Harry Haerengarangi Mikaere, Coromandel, for services to the aquaculture industry and Māori
Mikaere is a pioneer for aquaculture. As one of the first mussel farmers in the Coromandel, he supported businesses for 30 years. As chair of Manaia Marae, he was instrumental in redeveloping the marae and the local kura of Manaia. He has previously chaired the likes of the Iwi Māori Council and been on the Waikato District Health Board and is still involved in multiple organisations.
John "Jack" Webster Te Kapene Thatcher, Tauranga, for services to Maori and education
Co-founder and chairman of Te Puna I Rangiriri Trust, Thatcher taught hundreds of young people about waka. He established a traditional navigation school in 2015 and developed programmes for schools, polytechnics and wānanga.
Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit
Jane Ross Arnott, Taupō, for services to Pacific communities and conservation advocacy
"I'm very good at rattling cages."
Arnott refers to herself as a change agent. She wants to be remembered for standing up for her values. In her 30 years of advocacy, Arnott founded New Zealand's first cross-cultural consultancy representing Pacific Island communities and championed the corporate sponsorship of endangered species.
Catherine Frances Cooney, Rotorua, for services to health and community
"My mother taught me to do things in life to love and serve my family and community."
Cooney has found it hard to keep this honour a secret. She credits her late husband, her family, and her faith for supporting her through her career as a midwife, and in health leadership. Cooney was Rotorua Lakes District Health Board chief executive from 2001 to 2012 overseeing the redevelopment of the Rotorua and Taupō hospitals. She also chaired the National Health Workforce Group and has been involved in the Rotorua District Presbyterian Church.
Shirley Diane Kerr, Rotorua, for services to mycology
"I've always found fungi fascinating."
Kerr is recognised in the field of mycology which she's been involved in since 1999. She taught in schools between 1973 and 2017 and been a driving force for mycological exploration and education in the region. She authored A Field Guide to New Zealand Fungi. She thanks her husband for his support and also acknowledged her high school science teacher Mrs Heppenstall who encouraged her studies in botany.
Kenneth Bernard and Susanne Maire Laurent, Whakatāne, for services to wildlife conservation
Ken and Sue Laurent are actively involved in native bird conservation. Volunteer education guides for the Whakatāne Kiwi Trust since 2010. They were also part of the efforts to translocate 40 North Island Robins to Ōhope Scenic Reserve. Sue is a qualified kiwi practitioner.
Dr Peter Alexander Maddison, Katikati, for services to conservation
Maddison was a member of the Royal Forest and Bird Society's National Executive for 15 years. He was a founding member and is scientific advisor to Project Parore, a catchment-wide ecological restoration project based in Katikati. He voluntarily conducts ecological surveys which have led to the discovery of several new bacteria and animal species.
Janet Louise Peters, Tauranga, for services to mental health
"I'm passionate about sharing information around mental health and supporting people who need to hear it."
Peters is a registered psychologist. She has worked in the area of mental health and addiction services for more than 30 years. Peters' vision is to create safe spaces which can help remove the stigma around mental illness. She was the national manager of a 1997 campaign to reduce stigma around mental illness.
Karen Vercoe, Rotorua, for services to governance and sport
"When you get involved in kaupapa with passion, you don't think of the accolades."
Te Arawa Lakes Trust chief executive Karen Vercoe is a champion of women's sports, especially rugby. Her grandfather received an OBE and she is proud to be following in his footsteps. Vercoe has held leadership roles in the not-for-profit sector and has volunteered in sport and coaching. She also represented New Zealand in both women's rugby and touch rugby.
Graeme "Noddy" Douglas Watts, Whangamata, for services to the community and charity fundraising
"This isn't a one-man band. We're all passionate about where we live."
Watts has helped run the Whangamata Beach Hop since 2001. The Beach Hop brings about $8 million to the local economy each year, donating thousands of dollars to emergency services. Watts believes everyone can give back to their home.
Heather Margaret Williamson, Tokoroa, for services to netball and community
"It means a lot to me how I have encouraged netball players to achieve their best."
Williamson helped establish the Tokoroa Netball Centre and has been active in the community as a coach, umpire, and member for more than 50 years. Now a supporter of Grey Power, Williamson has asked district councils for improvements for seniors and people with disabilities.
Honorary Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit
Louisa Humphry, Thames, for services to the Kiribati community and culture
"My passion in life is for the Kiribati community to be a real part of vibrant New Zealand while continuing their own cultural identity."
Humphry is an artist who helped establish the first Pacific health clinic in Hamilton. She set up support networks for migrant workers and has exhibited at the Auckland War Memorial Museum and Auckland Art Gallery. She was also a member of the group that established the first Pacific health clinic in Hamilton, K'aute Pasifika Trust.
Recipients of the Queen's Service Medal
Sonia Elizabeth Edwards, Ōpōtiki, for services to historical research and the community
"It's all about the people. Everyone has a story."
A teacher and genealogist, Edwards researched every man from Ōpōtiki and Eastern Bay of Plenty who served in World War I leading to the publication of the book In Eternal Memory. Edwards spent hours photographing and cleaning headstones, giving families around the world access to gravesite information. She is now doing the same for those who served in World War II. She was also voluntarily involved with rowing and hockey at Ōpōtiki College in the 1970s and 80s.
Anita Ruth Prime, Whitianga, for services to youth and the community
"Life is short and I really believe in leaving a legacy."
Prime's goal is to support youth. With a United States Billboard charted single under her belt, Prime uses music as a tool for charity work. She is the current chief executive of Prime Music Academy. She provides free singing lessons for under-privileged children and sponsors children with musical potential.
John Robert Sandison, Rotorua, for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community
"I care about others. I'm proud of just helping people."
Sandison has worked as a firefighter both professionally and as a volunteer. He was a professional firefighter in Kawerau from 1974 until retirement in 2018 while simultaneously volunteering with the Rotoma Brigade for 45 years. During his time as officer-in-charge of the Rotoma Brigade, Sandison helped to build a sustainable fire service. He also was involved with Lake Rotoma Primary School between 1991 and 2000 as school caretaker and Board of Trustees chairman. He is also a JP.
Recipient of the New Zealand Distinguished Service Decoration
Serviceman M cannot be named due to his role with the New Zealand Defence Force. He led the ground recovery team at Whakaari / White Island after the eruption on December 9, 2019. In extreme heat and lethal gases he kept his team focused and supported them in managing their exhaustion until six bodies were recovered. He supported the subsequent police search operation for the missing two victims.