Tauranga retired clinical psychologist Lesley Stanley, who worked for 15 years in the special education sector, has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Having retired four years ago from her role with the Ministry of Education's Specialist Education Services Early Invention Team, the news came as a "huge shock", Stanley said.

Stanley's Queen's Birthday honour is in recognition of her dedicated services to education and the support of children.

In 2003 she helped bring to Tauranga the highly successful The Incredible Years programme, which was later adopted nationwide.


The programme is for parents and teachers of 3- to 8-year-olds to support them in managing challenging behaviours more effectively.

"The programme is a solution-based way of resolving behavioural problems," she said.

Stanley trained as a clinical psychologist at the University of Waikato in the early 1980s and worked in Hamilton and Levin before taking a 12-year break to raise her four sons.

After she and her husband moved to Tauranga in 2000, Stanley joined the Education Ministry's Special Education Service Early Invention Team.

The role led her to discover The Incredible Years programme, which was developed by American educator Dr Carolyn Webster-Stratton, and in 2003 Stanley began leading groups of parents.

Armed with positive results, she persuaded the ministry that more staff should be trained to teach the programme nationwide.

Today, more than 20,000 parents and 13,000 teachers have accessed the programme.

A humble Stanley said she wanted to pay tribute to local clinical psychologist Dr Dianne Lees, who introduced her to The Incredible Years and with whom she worked closely.

"Obviously, it's very exciting to receive this honour. But I want to acknowledge my local colleagues, and the wonderful caregivers and educators, as the success of the programme in Tauranga has been a big team effort."