A trailblazer in the modern era of Maori health services, Marj Joe has been recognised in the New Zealand Honours for the second time for her services to Maori and the community.

Mrs Joe, known also as Te Maari Joe, has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in the 2014 New Year Honours, announced today.

In the 2007 Queen's Birthday Honours she was made a Member of the Order (MNZM) and yesterday, at her home at Moteo, west of Taradale, she could not think of any special reason for the further recognition.

"I'll have to find whoever put me up again," she said.


Mrs Joe, born in Napier to parents Dan and Mary Hill in 1930, is now widowed and living in the Moteo area where she grew up, west of Taradale. She has been involved in community welfare at varying levels for 60 years.

After working for 23 years with the Ministry of Maori Affairs until its devolution in 1989, she helped establish the now multi-contracted Napier Maori health and social services provider Te Kupenga Hauora Ahuriri Trust 20 years ago, and has been chairperson since 1998.

But it was an already well-founded path for the Hukarere School old girl, who was a foundation member of the national Maori Women's Welfare League, while working as a teacher aide at Mohaka School in 1951.

She has continued serving the organisation ever since, mainly in Napier, to which she returned with husband Dennis from Mohaka.

Mrs Joe recalls growing up in the Depression years, seeing people from town seeking work in the country, where Maori communities lived off the produce of the land.

"For those who didn't have food, we gave," she said.

She reflects that the work which has become her life stemmed from the need to put back the pieces, which remains a "struggle" amid the tightening of funding, but she is not about to give up. "For the District Health Board," she said, "to us it's about quality services."