Pem Bird says he's humbled to be considered worthy of a Queen's Birthday Honour when many thousands of New Zealanders give so much of their time for others and don't receive the same accolades.
Murupara's Pembroke Peraniko (Pem) Bird was honoured with a Queen's Service Medal in 2008 but his work in education has not finished.
Today, he has been honoured again becoming a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to education and Maori.
In 2010 Mr Bird was appointed to Te Paepae Motuhake working group that advised on the development of the Maori Language Strategy.
Since 2012, he has been a member of the Minister of Education's National Cross Sector Forum on Raising Achievement and has served on several other Ministry of Education advisory and reference groups, including the Education Funding Review advisory group from 2016.
He leads a rural school in Murupara township - Te Kura Kaupapa Motuhake o Tawhiuau - and over the past few years has grown the multilingual and multicultural curriculum, which has culminated in it being the first indigenous school in New Zealand to open a Confucius Classroom to teach Chinese language and culture.
He has led his school to sustained improvements in academic achievement, with his students performing at or above their national counterparts against the Maori Medium National Standards.
At the national level, Mr Bird is past chairman of Waka Moemoea, co-chairman of Nga Kura a Iwi, past chairman of Te Ha o Te Ora Creating Safe Communities, a member of the Bay of Plenty Police Iwi Advisory Group, and locally is chairman of several marae organisations.
"There's a whole lot of New Zealanders around who just get on and do a whole lot of good stuff, thousands of unsung heroes doing lots of voluntary work.
"They work under the radar, I think I'm just doing my job," he said.
"Education is my calling, I started training as a teacher in 1968 and have been accumulating a bit of experience, and hopefully a bit of wisdom, along the way.
"My bottom line is to get every child across the line ... parents trust me to do that job and not let any of them fall behind so I think we're not doing too badly with that."
He said the key to a good life and good career was education, but sadly, many of his people were not getting that.
"All children have a fundamental right to experience and learning at school - it's a right not a privilege.
"I've been fortunate enough to have worked for the Ministry of Education, trained teachers for years and am heading for 21 years' working with korowai."
He said one of the most interesting and rewarding things he had been involved with was working with gang leaders as part of the Waka Moemoea project.
"It turned my mind around, that's for sure.
"I developed a lot of trust for the people I mixed with and I now have friends among them."