Whakatane's Selina (Sally) Webb was stunned to find out she had been nominated for a New Year Honour.
Mrs Webb will become an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to health and education.
"It is a huge honour to be recognised for the work I have done and, to be quite honest, I am still a little bemused with the nomination,'' Mrs Webb said.
The chairwoman of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board since 2010, Mrs Webb has a public health nurse background [she began her training at 17], was a member of the Minister of Health's ministerial review group that reported in July 2009 and has extensive experience in governance and a broad health-sector knowledge.
She is a former member of the Midland Regional Health Authority board, the Health Research Council, the Health Funding Authority, and was interim chief executive of the Health Funding Authority.
Mrs Webb can also add numerous local and regional governance titles to her resume.
Since 2001, she has also run her own business, SallyW, working as a coach consultant and facilitator within several organisations.
"When I think back over the years and the different teams I have been lucky to work alongside, I have to consider myself privileged,'' she said.
"But that is one of the great things about the health sector, it attracts motivated people who are committed to making a difference.
"It is thanks to the work of health professionals across the Bay of Plenty we have managed to improve performance a lot.''
She said the Bay of Plenty community was very fortunate in its facilities at each hospital _ and she believed the new hospital at Whakatane would be a real asset to the Eastern Bay.
Mrs Webb said she had also received incredible support from many individuals which had allowed her to take on so many roles.
"I would like to thank each and every one of them _ they are a bunch of marvellous people and I value their friendship.
"And my family have always been supportive, especially my delightful husband Patrick.''