Queens Birthday Honours List

Betty Nelley insists her Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit is an accolade for the team at the Kauri Museum at Matakohe.

"The volunteers especially, the staff and the people who support the museum, who are worldwide really," Ms Nelley said. "It's been a tremendous journey for me and I'm absolutely humbled by this honour, but it's never been work I did on my own. We all did it together."

Her husband, Ted Mooney, has also been an important part of her being able to do her work.


Ms Nelley's MNZM was awarded for services to history and tourism, both areas she continues to work in after retiring a year ago from six years as chief executive of the Kauri Museum, where she had worked in various roles for 19 years.

Among innovations, growth and awards achieved by the museum during her tenure, Ms Nelley is particularly proud it was recognised in 2012 as the first museum in the world to receive a carbon-zero certification. In 2013 the museum won the an award for Innovation/Environment/Technology at the Museums Aotearoa Award for its green initiative.

Ms Nelley helped develop the facility into a leading resource centre about the kauri timber and gum industries in New Zealand and a key tourist attraction for Matakohe. "I'm passionate about kauri and its timber."

Another passion is the history of the settlers and residents of the district, and Ms Nelley has helped research and record the stories of those who fought in the First World War, helping families discover more about family members who never returned. She joined the Maungaturoto RSA to help them compile those records.

She is also a member of the Rotary Club of Maungaturoto and Districts, and is a past president of the club.

As the head of a major tourist attraction, Ms Nelley was often in an ambassadorial role. "You never knew who was going to come through the door, whether important people from overseas who came officially or while on holiday, as well as all those regular tourists. It's an incredible place."