Dame Tariana first Māori woman to receive Blake Medal

7:16 am on 9 June 2018

A former Māori MP and a man with his eyes in the sky have been recognised at this year's Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards.

Tariana Turia

Dame Tariana Turia is the first Māori woman to receive the Blake Medal Photo: RNZ

Dame Tariana Turia was given the highest award - the Blake Medal - at a ceremony in Auckland last night.

The former MP retired from politics in 2014, but has been recognised for her work as a civil servant, developing Whānau Ora and helping Māori, Pasifika and people with disabilities.

She is the first Māori woman to receive the Blake Medal.

Speaking to RNZ last night, Dame Tariana said the award was very unexpected and humbling.

She laughed and said she thought they had the wrong person when first told.

"When you're working and being of service to the people, you don't really see it as an opportunity to be given an award for, you see it as your role in life," she said.

Founder of space company Rocket Lab, Peter Beck, was one of six to receive a leader award.

Peter Beck

Peter Beck Photo: supplied

Mr Beck said his company's recent launches were just the beginning.

"By the time next year comes around, if we are successful in enabling to launch one every two weeks, then we're sending more satellites to orbit than any other country," he said.

He said space and rockets take up a lot of his time, but he does enjoy speaking with younger entrepreneurs and giving them advice.

Sir Peter Blake Trust chief executive James Gibson said there was wide achievement with this year's recipients.

"Our Blake leaders have proven their unique leadership and ability to create positive change across their industries and communities."

Other award winners included artistic director Gregory Miles and Tāmaki College principal Soana Pamaka.

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