Wellingtonian Lynn McKenzie learned she was getting a Queen's Birthday honour in a Rwandan hotel.
The Zonta International president, of Khandallah, has become an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
She had just finished presenting an honorary membership to Jeannette Kagame, the country's First Lady, when she heard the news.
"It was really slightly surreal," she said. "It's most unexpected. It's not me, it's everyone else who has contributed."
The Rwanda trip was just part of her globetrotting two years as president. She is the first New Zealander to hold the top job at Zonta, and first joined the club in Wellington in 1989.
Under her leadership, Zonta set up a domestic violence awareness programme in rural Samoa, the first of its kind in the Pacific. She has also visited Zonta-backed programmes on HIV transmission in Rwanda, violence against women in Nigeria and obstetric fistula in Liberia.
"They've done a whole lot of amazing things in Nigeria and elsewhere."
One final trip is next month, to the convention in Orlando where she will step down at the end of her term.
- The Dominion Post