4 Jun 2012

New top honours mark Queen's Diamond Jubilee year

9:38 pm on 4 June 2012

Four additional members have been appointed to the country's highest honour, the Order of New Zealand, in the Queen's Birthday and Diamond Jubilee Honours List.

They are: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, senior public servant Dame Margaret Bazley, director Sir Peter Jackson and opera singer Dame Malvina Major.

Dame Margaret has dedicated her honour to the people of Canterbury. She has held leadership roles in the health and state sectors for more than 50 years and is now chair of commissioners of Environment Canterbury.

This year, 185 people have been recognised in the Honours List, among them four new Knights and three Dames.

Kirwan among new knights

Former All Black John Kirwan, who has been the public face of a campaign on depression has been made Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to mental health and rugby.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen, whose political career spanned three decades and who now chairs New Zealand Post, also received a knighthood, as did businessman and economist Roderick Deane and chief executive of the Department of the Prime Minister Maarten Wevers.

Sir Maarten led the department under two Prime Ministers and played an important role in the national crisis response during the Canterbury earthquakes.

A former Reserve Bank deputy governor, Sir Roderick says his personal sense of achievement revolves around his work as president of IHC New Zealand.

"The highlight unquestionably would be the vast improvements in the lifestyles that people with disabilities and intellectual handicaps can lead."

Three new Dames appointed

Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem, who in 2008 was the first woman appointed to the role, has been made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, along with Maori welfare advocate June Mariu and New Zealand Fashion Week creator Pieter Stewart.

Dame Beverley says she was speechless for the first time in her life when she learned of the honour, which she says also reflects the importance of the Ombudsman's office.

Dame June was acknowledged for her involvement in Maori welfare, justice and education. She has also had a long involvement in sport, captaining the Silver Ferns in 1960, later becoming a selector for the squad, and now national co-ordinator for Aotearoa Maori Netball.

Honours in arts, music

Entertainer Bret McKenzie has been made Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit. The actor, singer and songwriter from Wellington is best known as one half of the Flight of the Conchords comedy duo.

He won an Oscar for best original song in February this year for Man or Muppet which features in the latest Muppets movie.

Internationally renowned concert pianist Michael Houstoun has been made Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, along with Auckland Art Gallery director Christopher Saines and author Owen Marshall.

Mr Marshall has written or edited more than 24 books and won many awards, including the 2000 Deutz Medal for Fiction for his novel Harlequin Rex.

"It's an encouragement to keep going, it's a sign that people appreciate and enjoy some of the things you do," he said of the Queen's Birthday honour.

Others made Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit include art dealer Peter McLeavey, contemporary artist Shane Cotton, opera singer Margaret Medlyn and David Gibson for services to film and television, and Court Theatre chief executive Philip Aldridge, in recognition of his work to re-open the earthquake damaged Christchurch theatre.

Niuean writer and artist John Pule has been made Officer of the Order of New Zealand.

Rugby coaches recognised

Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith, All Black assistant coaches at the time of the team's 2011 Rugby World Cup victory, have been made Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Hansen, now head coach of the All Blacks, says he accepts the honour on behalf of the team and also his family whose love and support makes it possible for him to do the job.

Yachting mentor Neville Crichton has also been appointed Companion, along with Justice Warwick Gendall partly for his involvement in New Zealand Football.

Leon Blanchet has been made Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to athletics, as has Wellington Central Pulse netball team coach Robyn Broughton, New Zealand Rugby Union chairman Michael Eagle and Wellington Saints Basketball Team owner Nicholas Mills.

Temepara George was made Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her role in netball. Of Ngapuhi descent, she played for the Silver Ferns and since stepping down in 2011 has captained the Northern Mystics.

Other awards

Police Assistant Commissioner Dave Cliff has been made Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his leadership following the destructive earthquakes in Canterbury. Mr Cliff says his team also deserves recognition for the work they did following the quakes.

Colonel Hugh Trengrove has been made Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for co-ordinating the disaster victim identification unit following the 22 February 2011 earthquake.

Nigel Latta has been made Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services as a psychologist.

For services to science, University of Canterbury biochemist Christine Winterbourn, considered a world authority on free radicals, was made Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. She hopes the acknowledgement will help motivate more young people to enter science careers.