Restaurateur Fleur Sullivan says her New Year Honour is recognition for her philosophy of championing fresh, local seafood and produce.
"I think that this particular one is recognition of regions and regional food," she said at an investiture ceremony today. "It's recognition for the importance our regions play in our economy."
The owner of award-winning Fleur's Place in Moeraki, Otago, said her focus has always been on reflecting the best of local produce - an idea that hasn't always been well supported.
"When I first opened, people said no one will ever travel all that way to get fish, so it's wonderful that people do travel all that way for fresh fish.
"And with the fish you have the vegetables of the region, the wine of the region, and the staff of the region to go with it."
Ms Sullivan opened Fleur's Place in 2003, after running Olivers in Central Otago for 20 years.
The waterfront restaurant owns a fresh fish quota, and seafood is delivered by fishermen to the kitchen door.
Ms Sullivan was made a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the food industry. She was presented her insignia by Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae at an investiture ceremony at Government House in Wellington today.
She was also made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1999.
Ms Sullivan said today's ceremony was beautiful, though she felt the absence of her mother, who was with her when she received her honour in 1999, but has since died.
"The recognition makes you reflect on your life, and most people don't take the time to reflect on their lives," she said.