Central Otago resident and
actor Sam Neill says he rejected a knighthood because the
idea of a title was "just far too grand, by far".
His views were echoed by other well-known figures, such as
Maori activist and author Dr Ranginui Walker, who said there
was "a certain snobbishness" attached to knighthoods.
Neill, who starred in films such as Sleeping Dogs, The Piano
and Jurassic Park, said while he had nothing against the
titles, and the alternative system was "somewhat confusing",
he would not like to be known as "Sir".
"All modesty aside, I find the idea of a title for myself
just too grand at this time of my life," he said.
Children's author Joy Cowley, who declined to become a Dame,
said she did not want people start treating her differently
because of a title.
"I've also got an honorary doctorate and I get embarrassed
whenever that comes up on an envelope," she said.
"I don't like anything that separates me from other people. I
value my ordinariness."
Potter Len Castle said the reinstatement of the title system
did not reflect contemporary New Zealand society.
"I think the change that the Prime
Minister made is a retrograde step and I see in it a
regression to the hem of the royal petticoat."
Dr Walker said he was also disappointed that the DCNZM was
not given the recognition it deserved.
"I didn't have any qualms about accepting [the DCNZM] because
it's a New Zealand award and not tied to mother Britain or
our imperial past."
Dr Walker had been scathing of knighthoods because of the
wealthy businessmen who got them, such as Sir Michael Fay and
Sir Roger Douglas.
"I felt that the knighthood system had been rather
denigrated, or degraded," he said in March, when the changes
But Dame Margaret Shields, a former Labour Cabinet minister,
said reintroducing the titles was an appropriate way to
recognise achievements, in a way the DCNZM could not.
Dame Margaret received her title for her work supporting
"One of my jobs was to take honour back to women, so I
thought it was important for me to accept this honour.
"There is a feeling that it belongs to the community, not
just to the individual."