Service in the community brings its own rewards.
Mostly, volunteers do not make their way through sporting and
community organisations seeking anything but the satisfaction
of helping create the best possible environment; usually for
their children at the start but later for their neighbours,
friends and themselves.
It is true that in all walks of life, people find themselves
thrust into prominence because of their endeavours. While
they may have started in humble circumstances, leaders emerge
in our society. And because our society is small in
comparison with others around the world, we get to know these
leaders on different levels.
The reintroduction of the knights and dames to our
twice-yearly honours awards by Prime Minister John Key was
not universally popular. There had been a feeling that
Queen's Honours made New Zealand less of an independent
nation by clinging to the apron strings of Mother England.
But Mr Key summed his feelings up in a letter to a Dunedin
honours recipient last year when he spoke of the nation
relying on citizens from all walks of life stepping forward,
helping others, seeking new ways and doing things - reaching
for their dreams and enriching the lives of others.
Those people named today in the New Year's Honours list are
some of whom Mr Key spoke. They have walked among us, helping
others as they reached for their dreams.
New Zealand has had its own honours system since 1996. It is
made up of three orders and a range of other awards. Before
1975, New Zealand used the British honours system, and
between 1975 and 1996 it used a mix of British and New
The committee that conducted a major review of the honours
system in 1995 said that it was a way for New Zealand to say
thanks and well done to those who had served and those who
had achieved. The committee believed such recognition was
consistent with the egalitarian character of New Zealand
society, and enlivened and enriched it.
The Order of New Zealand is this country's highest honour. It
was instituted by Royal Warrant, dated February 6, 1987, to
recognise outstanding service to the Crown and people of New
Zealand in a civil or military capacity. Recipients of this
award do not receive a title. Ordinary membership of the
Order is limited to 20 living persons.
In 2009, Mr Key announced that titles were to be reinstated
in the New Zealand Honours system. This meant the return of
the titles of Knight and Dame Grand Companion (GNZM) and
Knight and Dame Companion (KNZM/DNZM). Looking across the
list of top recipients this year, there is an emphasis on
business, the judiciary, philanthropy and sport.
One of the outstanding features of the honours in New Zealand
is the lack of political motivation. Business people are
rewarded for their efforts. Sports people receive their award
for making New Zealanders proud and confident about competing
on the world stage. The judiciary and the police are the face
of justice in our community. Without those two important
components, society fails. Long-serving members of our local
authorities also receive public acknowledgement of their
commitment to their communities.
Digging further down into the lists, there is an
acknowledgement of the people who make the community a better
place. Health professionals, writers, painters and musicians
- to name just some vocations - have received recognition for
enriching our lives.
Collectively, the awards announced today represent all of us.
We serve, each in our own ways. Some people shun public
recognition, but there comes a time when the outstanding
achievements of individuals needs the recognition of their
Today is such a day. While the recipients will no doubt enjoy
the fruits of their labour, they also remain an inspiration
to a new generation.