Active life merits an honour

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 31/12/2013
Peter McDonald
CHARLOTTE CURD/ Fairfax NZ

MEMBER MCDONALD: Stratford’s Peter McDonald has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to real estate and the community.

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On the sofa of his Stratford farmhouse Peter McDonald leans back and reluctantly lists some of what he's done with his life.

"I'm on the board of the Rescue Helicopter Trust, I'm the chairman of Age Care Central, a life member of Hospice Taranaki and life member of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand," he says.

"It doesn't sound like me at all. It sounds like some other bugger to be honest."

And now that "other bugger" has also been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to real estate and the community.

The news of the honour came to him a little over two weeks ago, on the same day he celebrated his 61st birthday.

As with other recognitions he has received, he says he is humbled by the honour, admitting to often feeling as if he is not doing enough and could do more, though it is hard to see where he could fit anything more in.

With a working farm to help run, sheep to shear, race horses to groom and a seven-branch real estate business to oversee, his days start at 5am and don't end until he hangs up the phone from the last business call at 11pm. It sounds exhausting and would be if he thought of it as work. "But I've never worked a day in my life. I just love every minute of it," he says.

There has been a cost to this love. He didn't always have time to watch his five children at Saturday sports. A night at home with Min, his wife of 38 years, is often sacrificed to a committee meeting, a speaking engagement or simply working on the farm.

"Every hour you do something for the community is an hour to have to steal from somewhere else," he says.

"It's quite selfish really. While I am doing all that someone else has to look after everything. You just become so dependant and grateful to your family and colleagues."

As well as his 14 years on the Hospice Taranaki Board, the last six as chairman, and his current chairmanship of Age Care Central, Mr McDonald runs a Personal Support Trust to assist people with financial hardships.

He has been the chairman of St Joseph's School Board, managed major fundraising efforts for Francis Douglas Memorial College and has served 30 years on the Taranaki Real Estate Institute regional executive. He is also the executive director of McDonald Real Estate, the family firm he joined as a 22-year-old in 1976.

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