Just six days short of 28 years of service, Marie Streeter has retired from the Dannevirke office of the Ministry of Social Development, leaving behind a legacy of caring and commitment.

"You are Dannevirke and you have served your community well," Toni Seanoa, the Labour Market manager, based in Palmerston North, said.

At her retirement function on Wednesday morning, Marie was told she would be sorely missed by her colleagues and our community and she was commended for the passion and heart she has shown to the organisation and the community. Speakers said they'd been very privileged and honoured to have worked with her.

A retirement gift for Marie Streeter from her former colleagues says it all.
A retirement gift for Marie Streeter from her former colleagues says it all.

Known for her loyalty, Marie said she felt very humbled by the accolades.

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"I wouldn't be in this job without people and that's why I've done it, for the people. I don't think I'm special," she said.

"I've always enjoyed my job and tried to give my best and I've worked with some fabulous people."

Aroha Peakman-Walker, the Dannevirke Service Centre manager, will have worked for the ministry for 37 years in December, and said Marie has had a huge impact in her time there and influenced many lives.

"A person's mana is often reflected by how others see you and in all my time here, no one else has been acknowledged in the way she has when searching for farewell gifts for her," she said.

Marie's 65th birthday cake, topped with a super gold card, created for her by Liz Parkes.
Marie's 65th birthday cake, topped with a super gold card, created for her by Liz Parkes.

"Marie has been seen as the expert in many things and she's done so much for others. She's always been the person people have asked for and whatever she promised, she delivered.

"Marie will be remembered for going the extra mile and was often the first to arrive and the last to clock out. There's no way to calculate the number of hours of her own time she's given to her job."

It was acknowledged that throughout her years with the ministry Marie had worked across numerous roles including Working for Families, childcare subsidies, which provided valuable support in helping families cope in the Tararua.

On August 27, 1990 Marie was first employed as a senior assessor for Social Welfare in Dannevirke and admitted she didn't gel well with the computers.

"Technology isn't my thing and I won't miss the computers and I even struggle with my cellphone," she said.

In November 1997 Marie led the Emergency Unemployment Benefits team in Palmerston North, taking care of students' needs.

In 1998 she was seconded to the role of trainer and coach in the Dannevirke and Waipukurau offices, working alongside staff with training and development needs.

"Marie has shown kindness, empathy and has the ability to see the full picture," Aroha said.

"She delved deep to ensure people received all they were entitled to and she treated people with respect and trust. People would often come in to the office and only want to see Marie."

Aroha said Marie would win the prize for the least number of sick days and it was during her only time off last year when she broke her arm, that Marie began contemplating her retirement.

"I'll miss the work, but there are so many things I want to do and places I want to go," she said.

And her children and grandchildren can't wait to hang out with her, they told her via a video link at her farewell.

"I've been a bit of a workaholic," Marie admitted.

Formerly chairwoman of the St Joseph's School Board of Trustees, Marie continues to spend a lot of her time supporting people in the parish.

"She's been a friend to us, to our families and our children and has made a huge impression," Aroha said.

"She is often referred to by her colleagues as Mother Marie."

Marie's Super Gold Card arrived a few days ago and yes, she's already used it.

But there was once another career path Marie was considering.

"When I was 13 or 14 years old I thought I'd be a nun," she said. "The church has always been very kind to me, but then I met Athol ... "