Taupō woman Jane Arnott says becoming a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit vindicates the times where she has challenged the status quo "and I haven't gone away".
She says the Queen's Birthday honour for services to Pacific communities and conservation advocacy comes from her foundation belief of always putting integrity first.
"Integrity for my values is more important to me than earning money. But it has put me out of step with mainstream thinking of friends and other professionals."
She cut her teeth at the age of 24 protesting against downtown Wellington commercial landlords passing on a 666 percent land tax increase to tenants, on the back of the 1987 stock market crash.
Jane and her former husband wound up selling one of their two record stores and closing the other, but not before she had "rounded up 300 retailers" and appealed to ministers of the Crown, and to business advocacy bodies. The land tax was later abolished but it was the first time she had faced injustice.
Another defining moment was to come six years later when Jane was working at Telecom in public relations. A 9-year-old girl from an immigrant Tongan family racked up a $50,000 phone bill they were unable to pay and her family came in to say they were sorry, and asked to be let off the bill.
She doesn't know the outcome for the family but the lack of corporate compassion was too much for Jane to swallow and she resigned.
"There was a sense that someone had to do something and I realised it was going to be me."
She says there was a need to help immigrating Pasifika people adjust to the New Zealand way of life and it was problematic that there was a lack of information available in Pasifika languages.
"In 1990 not a single advertisement had a Pacific Island person in it."
Jane teamed up with Tongan Sefita Hao'uli and cross-cultural public relations company Arnott Hao'uli was launched.
"This was us taking on the big stuff. We challenged public and private entities in the 90s to have greater awareness and sincerity in communicating, serving or signing up Pacific peoples."
Their work led to Auckland Council and South Auckland Health undertaking their first branded campaigns in Tongan, Samoan, Niuean and Cook Island Māori.
Jane's interest in the relevance of ethics in business saw her complete a post-graduate degree in professional ethics at Auckland University, leading to 10 years as an associate and New Zealand representative for the Institute of Business Ethics, based in the United Kingdom.
The Queen's Birthday honour is also in recognition of Jane's work in conservation, pursuing the idea of corporate sponsorship for endangered species, in her role as executive director of the New Zealand National Parks and Conservation Trust.
Some of her branded campaigns include Mitre 10 Takāhe Rescue, the combined Air New Zealand and Foodstuff South Island's Save Our Species, and Kathmandu's We Need Your Spots.
She says her challenge to corporate New Zealand was that conservation was a governance issue.
"I was trying to put some personality into conservation. My board chair [Murray McKee] would talk about the bruisings I would get."
At that time, 18 years ago, only 4 to 6 per cent of corporate sponsorship and the philanthropic dollar went towards conservation, yet Jane says New Zealand conservation is the advertising theme for many businesses.
Her latest venture is The Ethics Conversation, providing professional ethics training for the business and finance sector.
Co-author of the publication Setting the Tone: A Perspective on Ethical Business Leadership in New Zealand, Jane says she wants to encourage people and companies to make decisions based on values and to reflect on the intended and unintended consequences of their decisions.
She says as a country we tend to vilify people who speak up about behaviour that falls short, and says really these people should be celebrated.
"My mantra is, the behaviour you walk past is the behaviour you accept."
As for the future, Jane says there are a few more things she wants to change.
"I've got a few more crusades to go."