The woman who helped bridge the gap between Māori and Pākehā by greeting people with kia ora has been made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
In 1984, Naida Glavish was a toll operator who faced reprimand for greeting incoming callers with "kia ora".
She then moved into the health sector, championing appropriate cultural support for Māori patients and implementing best-practice guidelines.
She said she would be Dame Rangimarie, which is the name her grandmother gave her.
"It's the first dame for my hapū and the iwi of Ngāti Whātua, so on their behalf I'm extremely proud to represent them.
"I think when my whānau finds out they will be absolutely delighted. Some will be in a state in a shock, some will wonder how on earth it happened," Dame Glavish said.
She said she would take the honour back to her marae where a hui would be held.
"It's where I was born and raised, on the shores of the Kaipara Harbour, and that's where it belongs."
Dame Glavish said her hopes for the coming year were to create a mental wellness service which looks through the lens of Māori.
"We need to address the issues people are facing and help them find a path forward - if the service benefits Māori then it will benefit all."
She said the idea was just in the discussion stage at the moment, but she was looking to put a business case together which could be presented to the government.
Dame Rangimarie served as president of the Māori Party from 2013 to 2016, and is now the chief advisor tikanaga Māori for the Waitematā and Auckland District Health Boards.
Health Minister David Clark said her commendation was a deserved acknowledgement for her tireless service to Māori and the community.
Dr Clark said her work to secure cultural support for Māori patients had made a real difference to many people's lives.