Whanganui's Sue Anderson has been recognised for her services to restorative justice with the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the New Year Honours.
Restorative justice involves offenders meeting victims and a facilitator helping them share their stories and feelings after a crime.
The facilitator writes a report, which is sent to the judge, lawyers and police prosecutors before the offender is sentenced.
Anderson was Whanganui's Restorative Justice Trust co-ordination facilitator for 13 years until she resigned in May last year.
"I'm the elephant in the room," Anderson said.
"Everybody else knows one another or, if they don't, they've got a connection through a crime.
"I can never believe how openly and honestly people will talk in front of a complete stranger."
Her passion for the process led her to continue working for Restorative Justice to provide support to practices in Invercargill, Gisborne and Tauranga and she writes Section 27 Cultural Reports for courts in Whanganui and Palmerston North.
These reports allow offenders to ask the court to hear from a person on the personal, family, whānau, community and cultural background of the offender.
"I am deeply touched to receive this honour but it is not just my work that makes the difference.
"It is the people who stand behind me – judges, police and defence lawyers all play their parts in supporting the process."
Anderson has increased restorative justice provision in the Whanganui and Ruapehu region, mentored facilitators to achieve national accreditation, and developed strong working relationships with key stakeholders.
She was a member of the Executive Board of Restorative Practices Aotearoa for two years and chaired the selection panel for the Morikanui Tertiary Educational Scholarships for the Whanganui Māori Trust Board for 10 years.
She was appointed chairwoman of Rise - Stopping Violence Services in 2019 and has volunteered at the Ruapehu Police Whakakotahitanga and Whānau Challenge weekend retreats for recidivist family harm couples and families, mentoring and supporting participants over the past 10 years.
Within this group there has been about a 70 per cent reduction in family harm and assaults. She has presented papers at Restorative Justice Conferences nationally and in Vancouver, Melbourne and Hobart on family violence, restorative communities and victim engagement.
Anderson has been involved in professional development at Whanganui Polytechnic and later UCOL Whanganui, designing, facilitating and evaluating training for staff.
She has also held positions on the trust board of Te Arawhanui Learning Centre and the national Adult Reading and Learning Association Executive Board.
Anderson said seeing how restorative justice has grown in effectiveness and acceptance is a driving force for her.
"When someone makes a mistake, there are relationships that need to be mended.
"Restorative justice gives people hope."