The first New Zealand woman with a Pacific Islands' heritage to become a government minister says an award of a Queen's Service Order helps to honour New Zealand's identity as a Pacific nation.
Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, who had been minister of Pacific Island Affairs and associate foreign minister in the last Labour government, is one of seven Pacific Islanders given awards in the New Year's Honours, announced today.
She retired from politics earlier this year to take up an administrative role at Victoria University.
Luamanuvao says she is humbled by an award given for her work with the community but says it's also acknowledging the wider Pacific contribution to New Zealand.
"You know, like I was born here. I have got this Queen's honour but why I am proud about it is I'm not only proud to be a New Zealander I am proud to be part of the Pacific, and I think that is the way that I view it. I think the Pacific community does make an enormous contribution to New Zealand and the Pacific and this is one way to recognise it."