Adrienne von Tunzelmann was astounded when she opened the letter that informed her she had been made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for her services to governance and the community.

"I then immediately thought what a privilege it is to join the other recipients because these are people who have made an amazing contribution in so many walks of life." She said she had got as much out of it as she had contributed.

"It's been the opportunity to experience the diversity of activity and the range of people who are working to improve the communities they are part of.

She said she'd had the opportunity to realise you learn from everything you do.

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"It's a two-way thing," she said. "As you build your experience you're able to keep adding to what you can give back to the community."

Ms von Tunzelmann has made significant contributions to governance and management across public and not-for-profit sectors, working at one time at the Treasury, Ministry of Justice and Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives.

She was the chairwoman of the New Zealand Women's Refuge Foundation, is vice president of Age Concern New Zealand, a member of the Council of Te WhareWananga o Awanuirangi, and a patron of the Tauranga Community Housing Trust, which provides housing for people with disabilities.

Living in Tauranga for the past 15 years, she served as president of the Tauranga region Chamber of Commerce and led a revitalisation of the Chamber's Business Women's Network.