Dedication to the city was celebrated at a ceremony at the Hamilton City Council Chambers when 13 residents were awarded with civic honours.
Arts, culture, sport and the environment were key areas of service but for Maureen and Arthur Leong the award was about their service to people.
"If you see a need to do something then you do it but it is enjoyable and we've both dealt with people," said Mrs Leong.
Mrs Leong was a nurse and midwife, has taught tai chi in the city for 25 years and helps to settle new Chinese immigrants in the community.
Her husband was a Fairfield College physical education teacher who taught students to windsurf on Hamilton Lake and waterski at the school pool. He has spent his lifetime in service to local sport.
The couple married in Hamilton in 1958 and said the honour was unexpected. "As far as I'm concerned you just live your life as it was, did what you thought was the right thing," said Mr Leong.
"There was no thought about awards, it's just a matter of enjoying what you are doing."
Children in Fairfield were given a pathway to sporting success thanks to Pera Paekau, who was recognised for her work as founder of the Hamilton City Tigers league club and her involvement at the Waikato Rugby League.
"For me it's about tamariki and loving them and nurturing them and getting them on the road to sport," she said. "I just do it for the love of doing what we do."
Hamilton East MP David Bennett attended the award ceremony and said it was an awesome day to celebrate the work of Hamilton citizens.
"Really special people in our community have given a lot and it's really nice to be able to acknowledge that in a public way."
The Hamilton Civic Awards, which are given out once a year, were selected by a panel which included mayor Julie Hardaker, deputy mayor Gordon Chesterman and councillors Martin Gallagher and Pippa Mahood.
Ms Hardaker said it was a way for the city to thank citizens for their years of work in the community.
- Waikato Times