"Always the bridesmaid, never the bride," New Zealander of the Year Mike King joked, after being a semi-finalist in the awards five times and finalist twice.
But this time, the mental health advocate came out on top.
"It still feels pretty surreal," he said of winning last night. "I'm just lost for words to be honest."
Receiving the award for his work in the mental health area, King wanted young New Zealanders to know that there were people from his generation who were there for them and looking out for them, he told media after the win.
"I'll just be using this platform to get a better deal for our kids' mental health.
"I wake up every day and I am thankful for do the things that I do ... I feel really, really privileged to do what I do."
Mr King said he felt honoured, and hoped the award would help give him a better voice in his work with mental health.
He donned white gumboots at the awards to raise awareness for his Gumboot Friday project which hopes to raise $2 million for free counselling for young Kiwis.
"We need to remember that our kids just want to be heard, they want to be respected," he said.