Marie Taylor – Queen's Service Medal (QSM)
As a mainly rural journalist in past years, Marie Taylor knew how to ask questions.
A couple that came to mind when she received the phone call telling her she would be a recipient in the Queen's Birthday Honours were "Is it a hoax?" – it's usually done by mail – and "Who do I blame?"
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In time the first query answered itself - the phone call had been made "from the Prime Minister's office" - to make sure she became aware during the unusual times of the Covid-19 lockdown.
As for blame …? She accepts she may never know who to plant that one on.
As it happens, it's plants that got her into this, stemming from her rural background on a farm near Gore, starting work in a local nursery, studying horticulture at Lincoln, and her purchase 15 years ago of a nursery near Hawke's Bay Airport.
The nursery now runs as native plant nursery Plant Hawke's Bay, supplying the region's revegetation market with eco-sourced, wholesale native plants.
It started as a small, part-time business but it's now full-immersion, with the equivalent of three fulltime staff and a move from the leased property to her own site planned for later in the year.
Now aged 56, she's chair of the New Zealand Plant Producers native nursery special interest group, and of the Hawke's Bay Botanical Group she founded.
She's also a trustee of Central Hawke's Bay native bush area Puahanui, has been a member of an implementation group which wrote the Hawke's Bay Biodiversity Action Plan, and was regional representative on the QE II National Trust from 1990 to 2005.
Her work has contributed to the survival of rare native species in the region, supporters
of her honour say.
A category winner in the 2014 national Rural Women Business Awards, she strived to do better, and was named Supreme Winner in 2018.
It prepared her for awards and honours, but the latest comes with a mixture of emotions.
"I thought it was a bit elaborate," she said.
"It's such unusual times. Our business is going really well, but others are struggling. It seems strange to be celebrating."