Former Napier mayor Barbara Arnott has been made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for services to local government and the community in the New Year Honours - and was quick to pay her own tributes to that community and her parents.

"I had a good city to work with - good people," she said as she contemplated being able to celebrate New Year's Eve, and her QSO, by raising a glass of something other than orange juice.

For the 12 years of her mayoralty she dutifully attended the public celebrations at the Sound Shell colonnade and would ring in the New Year on the historic Veronica Bell.

"We will be celebrating at home this year, so I can raise a glass now."


And a big part of that toast would be to her mum and dad, Bill and Mollie Barron.

"They are the ultimate givers to the community.

"They gave that support all their lives and to me they are the perfect example."

Her parents' commitment to the community was a "huge" influence on her.

Mrs Arnott said: "I'm pretty low key about it because at the end of the day it is for something you willingly and gladly do - so I do feel in two minds about it."

However, she accepted she had been recognised nationally for what she had pursued and achieved and she was proud of that, but again turned it back toward the people she worked with and the people of Napier.

"It is so important to talk to people. You get a feeling for what they want."

Through her years as a Napier City councillor and mayor she happily engaged in hundreds of street meetings to hear what the community had to say about issues.

Mrs Arnott said she was particularly proud of her pursuit of getting walkways and cycleways built through Napier.

"It's so good to see people out there on them. People talk to each other and they break down barriers."

She was also the driving force behind the new MTG museum development and oversaw the grandstand project at McLean Park.

But what many people may not fully realise is how tied up she has been in community organisations.

She has been involved with the community and public health committee, the Civil Defence emergency management committee, the Hawke's Bay Museum Trust, Napier Rotary Pathways Trust, Environment, Conservation and Outdoor Education Trust, and the Hawke's Bay Air Ambulance Trust.

She is also patron of a number of organisations, including the Napier Civic Choir, Age Concern Napier, Art Deco Trust, the Hawke's Bay Orchestral Society, DARE Eastern Districts and the Napier Netball Centre.

Mrs Arnott is also a member of the New Zealand Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal.

All her voluntary services were things she said she simply wanted to do. "Nothing I have done was done reluctantly. I just find it satisfying."

Despite stepping down from her mayoralty role, the community touch is still evident when she goes out.

"Since then [leaving the mayoralty] I don't think I've gone out without someone coming up to me and thanking me for what I've done. It's quite lovely really and it is nice to be recognised by people for what you've done - because I care about them."