June Maiu's tireless work for West Auckland Maori has been recognised in the 2012 Queen's Birthday and Diamond Jubilee honours list.
She is appointed Dame of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
The Te Atatu Peninsula resident was shocked to learn of the honour.
"It was a bit overwhelming. People have been so wonderful to me."
Her services to the community include contributing to the welfare of Maori in the areas of youth, justice, education and support for women. She has previously been national president of the Maori Women's Welfare League, chairwoman of the Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust and a member of the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission.
Dame June's work has previously been recognised with a Queens Service Medal in 1985 and she became a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2006.
Dame June, 80, says she can't take all the credit for her achievements.
"I am what I am because of the people around me. That's what it's about, you never do these things alone. There was a lot of people who had the same aspirations that I had."
She was born in Hicks Bay in 1932. Her father was from Te Whanau a Apanui and her mother was Ngati Porou.
Dame June represented New Zealand in outdoor basketball and netball and was the captain of the New Zealand netball team in 1960.
She trained as a teacher and started working at Rutherford College in the 1960s, helping introduce te reo Maori at the school.
She was also a founding member of the committee that helped raise funds and build Oratia's Hoani Waititi Marae which was officially opened in 1980.
Dame June and her late husband Joe Mariu had two daughters and she now has three grandchildren.
She left Rutherford College in 1987 to take up the role of national president of the Maori Women's Welfare League which she held for three years.
Dame June is a lay advocate working with youth and their families at the Rangatahi youth justice court based at Hoani Waititi Marae.
She is also the national co-ordinator for Aotearoa Maori Netball, a trustee of the Maori Women's Development Fund and is an honorary trustee of the Waipareira Trust.
- Western Leader
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