31 Dec 2016

Dame Valerie Adams: 'I'm a strong wahine'

1:59 pm on 31 December 2016

World and Olympic champion shotputter Valerie Adams leads the New Year Honours list, becoming one of seven people to take the title of Sir or Dame.

Valerie Adams.

Valerie Adams. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Adams has four World Championship gold medals to her name; two Olympic gold medals, three Commonwealth Games gold medals and three World Indoor Championship gold medals.

Between 2010 and 2014 her unprecedented winning streak spanned 56 competitions.

Adams said it was "awesome" to be one of three new dames named today.

"It's amazing, not only to be a woman, but also to be a Pacific Island woman. Hopefully I'm able to inspire more females in this way and more people."

She hoped others would be inspired to "chase their dreams".

The 32-year-old said the journey to the top of her sport had been fun, but long and not without obstacles. She said her background had helped her weather those difficulties.

"I'm a strong wahine, I'm a strong woman from south Auckland... I think that's been a massive part to my achievements on and off the field."

She said she felt honoured and humbled, and had been jumping around all week like a child in a candy shop.

Dame Valerie has received the Halberg Supreme Award three times and took out the Halberg Sportswoman of the Year for seven consecutive years, from two-thousand-and-six.

She says few women athletes have become Dames in New Zealand and she hopes this honour will help change that.

Fran Wilde.

Fran Wilde. Photo: SUPPLIED

Former mayor and MP recognised

Fran Wilde, the former Wellington Mayor and MP who led moves to decriminalise homosexuality, has been made a dame.

She said getting the law passed in 1986 was her greatest achievement as a Labour MP.

"That did make a major impact socially in New Zealand, not just on gay men who were the primary focus, but also on all of New Zealand - because it actually heralded a new era of tolerance and acceptance of diversity in New Zealand - which has been very important."

Principal humbled

The long-serving principal of St Joseph's Māori Girls' College in Napier , Georgina Kingi, rounds out the list of new dames.

She attended the school before going on to teach there in 1969. She become principal in 1987.

Georgina Kingi, long-serving principal of St Joseph's Maori Girls' College in Napier.

Georgina Kingi, long-serving principal of St Joseph's Maori Girls' College in Napier. Photo: SUPPLIED

"My belief in the value of Maori girls education in the holistic environment of a Maori boarding school is why I have remained there so long," said Dame Georgina, who added she was humbled by the recognition.

"My success has not been achieved by individual effort alone, but is the work and effort of many."

Professor credits Taranaki upbringing

The neuro scientist, Professor Richard Faull, has been knighted for his contribution to medical research.

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He has an international reputation for his ground-breaking research studies on the human brain and its diseases including Huntington's, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Motor Neuron.

Sir Richard founded Auckland University's Centre for Brain Research in 2009, and raised more than $15 million to advance its work.

He has an international reputation for his ground-breaking research into the human brain and its diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's and motor neuron.

Richard Faull, neuro scientist.

Richard Faull, neuro scientist. Photo: SUPPLIED

Sir Richard credited his upbringing in rural Taranaki, and his parents, for his work ethic.

"They had a great philosophy on life - and that is you look after people, look after community first, and never do anything for reward. Just go out and make sure that you do the very best for someone else, and never expect a payback. It'll come when you don't expect it, and I suppose this is a bit of a payback I didn't expect."

He said families were at the heart of his work and dedicated his honour to the families of those with brain disease.

The head of New Zealand Post, Brian Roche, the Premier of Niue, Toke Talagi, and an international arbitration lawyer, David Williams QC, round out the list of new knights.

A full honours list can be found at: http://dpmc.govt.nz/honours/lists/ny2017-list

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