The Governor-General has presented this year's Anzac Award to Barbara Cunningham from Mataura in Southland.
Mrs Cunningham is a former midwife and has lived in the town, near Gore, for 33 years.
She is an elected member of the Mataura Community Board and leads several projects including the Mataura Community Garden
Mrs Cunningham said she saw the need to help low income families.
"We started it because we realised there are families and older people who needed help with vegetables, and couldn't grow them in their own gardens. So we got cracking and started it."
Sir Jerry Mateparae said Mrs Cunnigham was someone making a real difference to her community.