An Auckland based kuia - described as a guardian of taonga Maori - has become a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
The Queen's honours list was issued on Monday, and a total of 179 people were given awards.
Nganeko Kaihau Minhinnick, who has held a number of Maori leadership roles, has received the title for her service to Maori and conservation.
Dame Nganeko of Ngati Te Ata, Waiohua and Waikato-Tainui descent says she's surprised by the award.
The board chairperson of Mana Whenua i Tamaki Makaurau - who's also involved in public health - has also been instrumental in several Ngati Te Ata Treaty of Waitangi claims.
She wasn't planning on accepting the award but says she felt her ancestors (tipuna) around her, giving her strong indications that she should take the honour.
Dame Nganeko says her focus right now is settling and resolving the several treaty claims of Ngati Te Ata.