Te Puni Kōkiri's outgoing chief executive Michelle Hippolite appeared before her last select committee at parliament this week before she steps down next month.
The Māori Affairs Select Committee acknowledged Hippolite's six and a half years of service.
Hippolite says the Māori development kaupapa is in her bones.
"It's in my whakapapa. Being the chief executive for Te Puni Kōkiri, the toihautū, has really added to my experiences of 'what matters for whānau matters for Aotearoa'."
The Waikato, Rongowhakaata and Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki descendant took up the position in December 2012 and is the first woman to lead the organisation since its establishment in 1992.
Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta says, "There are not many leaders like her in our government agencies. She had a strong focus on our families and she is very skilled in the agriculture and business sectors."
Hippolite says she has enjoyed her time at the helm.
"I have really enjoyed working with an organisation that is really motivated to do great mahi with our people and if anything I would have put more time into doing work with other government agencies about what they needed to do to lift their performance in understanding the Māori world and doing things in a different way."
Hippolite decided to stand aside at the beginning of the year.
"I've got something in the pipe to figure out how I can support conservation but who knows, there may be other things on the horizon and my book is open."