Former Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey says his knighthood is a reflection of a political career as an "action man".
Sir Bob, 70, was given a knighthood on Monday for his services to local body affairs and the community after serving 18 years as mayor of the west Auckland council of Waitakere from 1992 to 2010.
Sir Bob, who has also been involved with Surf Life Saving New Zealand for 58 years, said he was deeply moved by the knighthood, which he said reflected the work of many other people but also his attitude that things can be changed.
"Whether it be lifesaving or the work I've done in the community, I've said `hey this is a big issue, and we can actually do something about it'," he said.
"So I'm a bit of an action man. I don't go and talk about it, I actually go and do things."
He said he got into politics after a successful career in advertising to improve the "wild west" image of west Auckland, where he grew up.
During his time as Mayor Sir Bob focused strongly on environmental issues, and said the greatest environmental achievement while he was Mayor was successfully promoting a Parliamentary law protecting the Waitakere Ranges and its foothills from development.
"But I'm really conscious that so many other people help you with these achievements. That bill was 40 years in the making - I just got it over the line."
Sir Bob was also president of the Labour Party from 1999 to 2000 and has been deputy chairman of the New Zealand Film Commission and a board member of Te Papa.
He is now chairman of Waterfront Auckland, a council-controlled organisation responsible for revitalising the central city waterfront.
"I feel that the creation of a headland park in our lifetime is something that all Aucklanders want, where the Tank Farm is now, so I'm going to give that a bit of a nudge next year."