Wanganui District councillor Sue Westwood has received a Queen's Service Medal in the New Year Honours List.
Mrs Westwood has spent 24 years in local government, starting with the Waitotara County Council, which was later merged with the Wanganui District Council. She was the first woman on the Waitotara District Council in 1981.
Mrs Westwood's career in local politics has been matched by a wide range of work in volunteer organisations.
She has also chaired the Powerco Wanganui Trust, the Wanganui Regional Community Polytech and the Access Programme for job seekers in the 1980s. She is patron of the Cancer Society's Relay for Life and chairs the Wanganui Sports Hall of fame. She is also a trustee of the Wanganui River Enhancement Trust and the Masters Games Trust. And she is on the board of Moutoa Gardens and the Cooks Gardens.
Mrs Westwood said her community involvement "started with the kids" in such organisation as Plunket, kindergarten, school and girl guides.
"I also learned a lot of skills with a strong National Party women's section. They were my mentors and I picked up things like presentation and processes."
Mrs Westwood she has always enjoyed a challenge.
"When Wanganui Polytechnic merged with UCOL, that was a particularly challenging year. But I also like the other kind of challenge, challenging a system to get a better result."
Service comes naturally to her.
"Service is just putting yourself out there for a place you care about. All that I've done on council is bring skills to the place I live," she said.
"If I'm asked by the mayor to do a job, you do the best job you can. You are working with a team, and that's both the council and the staff.
"You are a united body doing its best for the place we live in.
"As for an award, you can't do it without working with people, like-minded people who like living here and care about the community."
She has combined her volunteer work with a teaching career over the years at Gonville, Tawhero, Wanganui Intermediate, Wanganui Girls' College, Wanganui High School and Wanganui Polytechnic.
She said one of the highlights of her service has been the Computers in Homes initiative.
"That was one of the pleasures, looking back - putting computers in the lower-decile areas through Computers in Homes. It aligned with my teaching background as well."