Arriving in New Zealand from the United Kingdom in 2003 on a three-year secondment to the New Zealand tax department as deputy commissioner, Naomi Ferguson has stayed ever since, now being given one of New Zealand's highest honours – being recognised in the Queen's Birthday and Platinum Jubilee Honours list.
Now residing in Raumati South on the Kāpiti Coast, Naomi said it is a great honour to be made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for service to public service.
"My first reaction was 'wow, how special' - it is a great honour and I was very surprised to be nominated.
"I felt humbled, honoured and excited all at the same time."
Naomi has been honoured for her extensive work and leadership in the transformation of tax administration in New Zealand.
Appointed the first female commissioner and chief executive of Inland Revenue in 2012, Naomi led the department for 10 years, finishing up in the role last month.
During her time at IR she delivered its business transformation plan, using technology to modernise the administration of the tax system and make engagement with Inland Revenue easier for New Zealanders.
"It has been a privilege to lead IR over the past 10 years.
"Through the transformation plan, we aimed to make the tax system more simple, open and certain for businesses and individuals.
"The transformation was a massive programme, involving policy and process change, the introduction of new technology and new ways of working for the people of IR and its customers."
Smiling each time she hears a small business owner saying how easy it is now to do their GST straight from their own software, Naomi is very proud to have led the department successfully through the changes.
"I feel very proud to have led Inland Revenue (IR) through a period of transformation.
"The people at IR are fantastic public servants who do an amazing job for the community, and it was a privilege to lead them.
"This award is an award for all the people who have worked at IR and who enabled the transformation."
Naomi co-chaired the Papa Pounamu Diversity and Inclusion Programme, led by the Public Service Commission.
She also played a key role in establishing and sponsoring the Government Women's Network, a role she has loved, which connects women in public service, advances public sector goals for women and celebrates achievement.
"Supporting diversity and inclusion across the public service has been a big passion of mine.
"Over my time there has been a huge expansion in employee-led networks and increased commitment to ensuring the public service respects and values diversity.
"It means the public service better represents all of our communities."
As chairwoman of the OECD Forum on Tax Administration Gender Balance Network, she has championed international initiatives to drive institutional change to improve gender balance across leadership positions in taxation agencies.
She has led cross-agency work to deliver government initiatives including the Small Business Cashflow Scheme, Covid Support and Resurgence Support Payments during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Naomi also received the Women of Influence Award in Public Policy in 2016.