Emeritus Professor Judith Binney has been promoted from companion to distinguished companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to historical research.
At her Mt Eden home, Professor Binney wanted to pay tribute to past and fellow historians as well as show her appreciation for "those who put Humpty Dumpty back together again".
Professor Binney spent the past two years undergoing treatment for cancer but says she is now "absolutely fine".
The illness meant she had to step aside from her appointment to the Waitangi Tribunal in 2003, but she was able to give evidence as a historian.
Her work has often focused on the encounter between Maori and European and her work includes The Legacy of Guilt, A Life of Thomas Kendall which won the F. P. Wilson Award for best historical writing.
Professor Binney said it was an exciting time to be a historian and believed her award was an affirmation of the importance of history to society.
"I think history has much increased in its mana because people are becoming more interested in, and questioning our past."
She believes the rigour of historical research presented at the Waitangi Tribunal in recent times is not fully appreciated.
"The record being created is astonishing ... it will probably be a couple of generations for people to realise what is there."By Angela Gregory Email Angela