After 15 years volunteering as a Catholic chaplain at the Rotorua Hospital, Miyoko Hammersley has been awarded a Queen's Service Medal.
Mrs Hammersley was shocked to receive a formal letter recently which informed her she would be receiving the honour.
"I have no idea who nominated me. It was a real surprise,'' she said.
Mrs Hammersley volunteers at the hospital and mental health unit three days a week visiting patients, making a special effort to visit the Catholic patients.
"I feel that is where I can help, where I can be of assistance to others.
"I like to lift their spirits and be with them when they are lonely. I can't change circumstances but I can walk with them and lighten some of their burden.''
She said that was her favourite part of being a chaplain.
A humble Mrs Hammersley said her Queen's Service Medal recognised the good work done by chaplains all over New Zealand, and she was just lucky to be "the tip of the iceberg''.
Mrs Hammersley also helps as an interpreter at the Rotorua Hospital when Japanese tourists who cannot speak English are admitted. The mother-of-two moved to New Zealand from Tokyo in 1975 for a better place to raise her family.
She now has three grandchildren and another on the way, and said she would continue at the hospital as a Catholic chaplain as long as she was needed.