Nancy Merriman's lifetime of service has been recognised with a Queen's Service Medal for services to the community.
The 2012 Queen's Birthday and Diamond Jubilee Honours recipient's contribution to the communities of Katikati, Athenree and Tauranga has spanned decades.
"When I received the letter from the Prime Minister asking me whether I would accept this honour I felt numb and overwhelmed and thought about all the other people out there who do some absolutely amazing things in the community. I feel very humbled and it is terribly special to be honoured in this way, particularly in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year."
But Mrs Merriman, 74, said she couldn't have served her community without the support of her family.
The humble recipient was the first woman to be elected to the Tauranga County Council in 1974 and was a councillor for 15 years.
She and her husband Ken established the Katikati Heritage Museum in 1999 and passionately worked to expand its collection ever since.
In March, the Merrimans sold the museum to the Katikati Heritage Museum Charitable Trust, leaving some funds as an interest-free loan to help ensure the museum and its exhibits stayed in the ownership of the local community.
Mrs Merriman served nine years as deputy chairperson of the Tauranga Museum Board and is a foundation trustee of the Athenree Homestead Trust. She served until she was was elected to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council in 1989 and chaired the regulatory and monitoring committee for a term.
She also helped establish the Katikati Business and Professional Women's Club, the Katikati Toastmistress Club, the Tauranga Women's Refuge and the first Tauranga Family Planning Clinic. In January, Mrs Merriman was awarded the Melvin Jones Fellowship, in recognition of her services to the Lions and the community.