Bestowed with an ONZM in the Queen's Birthday Honours, Caren Rangi of Napier, is unsurprisingly proud.

In her career Rangi has rubbed shoulders with Prime Ministers, other Cabinet ministers and corporate leaders, in New Zealand and abroad, and has worked in Wellington for 20 years. But speaking from Rarotonga, where she works a few days each month, she said she's still just a local girl from Napier.

Rangi is married with two kids and parents just around the corner in Tamatea, where she grew up and went to the three local schools — Tamatea primary, intermediate and high.

To go to the next level she studied at Massey University, and soon afterwards found herself working in the Office of the Auditor-General in Wellington, the start of the CV which finds her now an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to the Pacific community and to governance.

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Starting with two of the more recent events, firstly in March she had a place on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's delegation to the Pacific — "our very own Cook Islands girl from Manihiki, Caren Rangi, a ground-breaker in terms of Pacific peoples' engagement in business and government over in Aotearoa," recorded the Cook Islands News.

Then, in April, a ministerial appointment to chair an independent Whanau Ora Review Panel.

A bachelor of business studies and a member for 25 years of the Chartered Accountants institute of Australia and New Zealand, of which she was made a Fellow in 2015, Rangi is of Cook Islands Maori descent, from the islands of Rakahanga, Rarotonga and Aitutaki.

She realised some years ago that there was a reason for her to feel more comfortable about being around the board table — so that her people would have voices at that level.

Since 2002 she has sat on a range of boards at both Government and community level, and in 2008 established Ei Mua Consulting, of which she is principal consultant.

She has been a member of the Charities Registration Board, deputy chairwoman of the Arts Council of New Zealand, deputy chairwoman of Eastern and Central Community Trust, director of the Cook Islands Investment Corporation and a trustee of the Pacific Island Homecare Services Trust.

She is also a director of Pacific Co-operation Broadcasting, which harks back to the establishment of Pacific broadcaster Niu FM. "I bought the first transmitter," she says. "It's the biggest cheque I've ever written — $9 million! My hands were shaking."

She was national president of the Pacific women's council PACIFICA from 2015 to 2017, during which time she headed a number of initiatives and mentored other women into leadership roles.

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She is a director of the Cook Islands Investment Corporation in Rarotonga and of Pacific, hence her time in Rarotonga.

She's due home, where today's announcement won't have been a complete surprise.
She forewarned her mum and husband McKenzie.

"I know my parents will be pretty chuffed," she said.

As for her husband, a freezing worker: "He thinks it's pretty cool. He said: Do I have to wear a suit?"