Long-serving rural GP Dr Verne Smith credits the wider community for the success of Maniototo Health Services.

That was among the comments he made as people gathered to shine a light on his 30 years as a sole-charge GP.

"It's honestly not about me. It's about the community trust and everybody else" he said.

His partner, Di Byrne, had arranged a surprise celebration to mark the milestone on Friday afternoon among friends and colleagues, including his parents Ian and Ailsa Smith, who travelled from Mosgiel for the occasion.


"It goes without saying, we are very proud of him — he's a good man" his father said.

A range of people spoke at the celebration, mainly to acknowledge their gratitude for his loyalty and willingness to work long hours.

Maniototo Hospital manager Geoff Foster was among them.

He recalled a time when he was told "if you can find a doctor that won't leave after 5 o'clock, don't let them go".

"We thank you, our staff thank you — they all think you are wonderful."

Smith reiterated that there was more to the service than just him.

"It's very little to do with me, really."

Smith acknowledged the many people who assisted him in his job.


Smith said it was also about the volunteers, St John, the cleaners, the nurses, the rescue helicopter service and the wider community.

"It's a lot to do with the fact we are part of a really good team."

He was presented with a range of gifts during the celebration, including a pounamu necklace from his family, a painting of the Kakanui mountain range from Maniototo Health Services and a staff photo from the Lions Club of Maniototo.