Whanganui veterinarian Pieter Verhoek has been chosen to receive the 2018 Outstanding Service Award and now he is going to retire.
Verhoek has been looking after cats and dogs at Wanganui Veterinary Services for almost 40 years and at 63, he says he is ready to retire.
"My wife and I have a big garden, we want to travel and visit our children and grandchildren as well as places we have never been to.
"And we both play Bridge so there will be plenty to do."
Although he will no longer be at the practice where he has been a partner, co-manager, and currently associate senior veterinarian, he won't be leaving the profession altogether.
When he received his award at the recent New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) conference, Verhoek was celebrated for his tireless work for the veterinary profession, NZVA, and companion animal welfare.
His contribution has included serving on Companion Animal Veterinarians (CAV) board as well as the Veterinary Professional Insurance Society (VPIS) board and NZVA board, sitting on the audit and risk committee and chairing the education committee.
He was instrumental in setting up the Companion Animal Health Foundation (CAHF) giving a research arm to the CAV committee that has been used to fund research that benefits the health and welfare of companion animals in New Zealand.
Verhoek was key in establishing the New Zealand Companion Animal Register, the only microchip register in New Zealand.
"The database is managed by Kiwi Web here in Whanganui so it also provides employment for local people," he says.
He is also proud to have been a driver in winning the bid to host the World Small Animal Congress held in 2013.
"I put my hand up to do these things and they do take up a lot of time but I think I've had back more than I've put in.
"I have met so many interesting people and had some fantastic experiences."
Most of his committee work will continue after retirement and he is also an NZVA representative to the New Zealand Companion Animal Council and the National Cat Management Strategy Group.
He is a trustee for the New Zealand Companion Animal Trust and has served on the executive and as President for the Federation of Asian Small Animal Veterinary Associations.
"Above all, Dr Verhoek is recognised for his generous support to other veterinarians," says an NZVA representative.
"The veterinary profession has benefited greatly from his long and dedicated service to the association."
Verhoek is the second Whanganui veterinarian to receive the Outstanding Service Award from NZVA.
His former boss, Bob Duckworth, was presented with the award in 1998.