Dame Tariana Turia, DNZM
Dame companion of the New Zeland Order of Merit, for services as an MP
Former Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says the idea of formal recognition on the New Year Honours list didn't sit easily with her at first.
Mrs Turia has been made a dame companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services as a Member of Parliament and while humbled by the recognition was unsure whether she would accept.
"In the first instance I thought I might not take it but they [her whanau] said it's not really for me, it's for our whanau, hapu and iwi - for all the people I have worked alongside," said Dame Tariana from her Wanganui home.
"It's a shared thing so I guess when you look at it in that context it does make it easier to give consideration to accepting it."
Dame Tariana said she felt the greatest thing for her was "to earn the trust and respect of people throughout the country".
"I have always believed in the people and will continue to do so. I'm a little bit overwhelmed and I don't really know what to say about the award because in many ways I don't know what it means for me.
"I don't know what it would change for me. It's highly unlikely anything would change for me because essentially all my life I've been a pretty ordinary person who lives a very ordinary life and I don't anticipate any of this will change."
Her record in Parliament, which she entered in 1996 as a list MP for the Labour Party before she was elected as the MP for Te Tai Hauauru, suggests otherwise.
Dame Tariana famously crossed the floor in opposition to her then party's stance on the foreshore and seabed legislation before resigning in 2004. After winning the byelection for Te Tai Hauauru she was sworn in and became co-leader of the Maori Party. Between 2008 and this year she held the ministerial portfolios for Whanau Ora, Disability Issues and the Community and Voluntary Sector.
The Whanau Ora approach across government, and the Enabling Good Lives approach in the disability sector are hallmarks of her leadership, in which strategies for change are considered to be most enduring when whanau/families and people with disabilities have responsibility for determining their own solutions.
Dame Tariana admits feeling a sense of pride in helping to implement Whanau Ora, which she said showed that resources necessary for whanau and community development didn't have to be in the hands of government agencies.
"If they were that good then why aren't people doing better than they are? I'm a firm believer in the private or NGO sector carrying out a lot of functions of the state - that is what rangatiratanga is about."
She said she didn't have any regrets or feelings that things were left unresolved when she stepped down from politics this year. She is on a number of boards but is also getting used to being a babysitter for any of her 27 grandchildren.
"You always feel you wish you could do more," she said. "We never do enough, if you understand what I mean, in politics and I always felt it would be great if we could make decisions based on what was right rather than what was political."