A lifelong dedication to promoting and practising the art of magic has earned an Auckland man the first ever Queen's Service Medal awarded for services as a magician.
Alan Watson was introduced to magic at age seven and started out performing tricks for charity at hospitals and retirement homes, before spending decades as a commercial entertainer.
"I was really thrilled for the magicians in New Zealand because it meant our art form was being recognised with a royal honour," Mr Watson said of his surprise award.
A member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians for more than 33 years, he has organised over a hundred international lectures on the art of magician, and in the past decade has arranged $70,000 of sponsorship for young Kiwi magicians to learn their craft
"I have a great love for it, in fact for me it's not a job, it's my hobby - I'm working in people's good times," he says.
"There's been a lot of changes, it's like every art form, you have to keep reinventing myself [and] I've down that many times over the years."
Watson's citation praises him for raising New Zealand's profile in magic circles through his weekly online publication, "Magic New Zealand", which has more than 17,000 readers. He admits he's in awe of the new generation of TV magicians and believes they've helped revive the art.
"They're inspiring, they're great, I love seeing them come to New Zealand because it inspires our younger magicians, gives them an opportunity to actually meet them first hand and talk to them", he says.
"Quite often I've even managed to get them do lectures and that's helped inspire and lift the standard of New Zealand magic."
Mr Watson says he will eventually retire from performing but plans to spend more time promoting his craft and mentoring young magicians.