Helping improve the lives of disabled Kiwis is not just work for Lorna Sullivan it is her life.
Ms Sullivan has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, an honour she wants to share with disabled people nationwide.
"If I'm getting an award it's not just mine. It's recognition that the lives of disabled people need to be acknowledged and we've still got a long way to go in seeing that happen," she said.
The 60-year-old has been an advocate for disabled New Zealanders since the 1980s.
"Early in my life I recognised injustices and was not able to understand why, in a country like New Zealand, such injustice could exist for no reason."
Ms Sullivan has headed numerous organisations and been instrumental in policy change, but it is the grassroots work that keeps her going.
"The highlight for me is being involved in the lives of people and seeing people emerge," she said.
"If we can free people from the restraints, that's when we see who they really are. We've got no idea what the potential of people is unless we invest in that potential."
The political side of her work was very much secondary, she said. "Unless you're part of the thinking it's difficult to have an influence. I became involved in Government decision making but it's all for that one purpose how might we change the understanding and the systems ... so we start to see disabled people as members of the community."
Ms Sullivan has also been chief executive of Imagine Better, an organisation presenting ideas on disability to national and international audiences, since 2003 and was involved in the development of the needs assessment and service co-ordination for the Regional Health Authority in 1992.
She was a foundation board member of Access Ability, a member of the national executive of the Disabled Persons' Assembly of New Zealand and is a member of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission Working Group for Disability.
Ms Sullivan has also been a member of the Standards New Zealand, Health and Disability Standards Working Group, the New Zealand Disability Strategy Reference Group and was a New Zealand representative for the Disabled Persons' International World Council.