Marlborough woman Amoroa Luke, better known as Molly, was true to character yesterday after learning she had received an award in the New Year honours list.
When contacted by the Marlborough Express, Ms Luke was determined that she did not want to speak about herself.
"I can talk about other people, but not about me," she said.
Her appointment as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit recognises her decades of services to Maori, but the Ngati Rarua Iwi Trust chairwoman was adamant it was all in a day's work.
"What I've done is what is expected of me really - it's my role. I've been given a role in the community and I hope that I've done it to the best of my ability."
Two other people with connections to Marlborough have also been named on the honours list this year.
Marlborough Kindergarten Association general manager Wendy Logan has been awarded a Queen's Service Medal for her services to early childhood education, while Scenic Hotel Group executive chairman Earl Hagaman, who has strong business links to Marlborough, was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Ms Luke has had a particular focus on Maori health and was the founder and chairwoman of Te Hauora o Ngati Rarua, a Nelson-Marlborough Maori health provider of which she has become the manager.
She was also a trustee of the Ngati Rarua Atiawa Iwi Trust, which she lead through negotiations with the Crown to return more than 365 hectares of land at Motueka to Ngati Rarua and Te Atiawa iwi.
Te Atiawa o Te Waka-a-Maui Trust chairwoman Glenice Paine has worked closely with Ms Luke and said yesterday she was always there to "lend a hand".
"She works very hard, Molly. There's no such thing as a weekend in Molly's book.
"She always goes that extra mile to make sure Maori have access to health, and not just Ngati Rarua but all Maori people," she said.
Ngati Rarua project manager Joe Puketapu, who has worked with Ms Luke for nine years, said the acknowledgment had been a long time coming for such a deserving recipient.
She had been an advocate for Maori health across Marlborough and Nelson, but had also made a "wonderful contribution" to the Marlborough community as a whole, he said.
"For Molly it's not about looking out for one, but looking out for everybody . . . I really admire her dedication to the people, to Maori, not only Ngati Rarua but to Maoridom as a whole," he said.
Ms Luke's work had shown him the importance of people pulling together, showing leadership and strength of character.
"She doesn't make a big fuss about it, she just gets on and does it and is humble, very humble about everything she does," Mr Puketapu said.
Ms Luke said she had thought hard about accepting the honour. "I am thankful to the people who nominated me, I'm really grateful for that.
"It's hard talking about myself but I'm just really humbled," Ms Luke said.
- © Fairfax NZ News