Queen's Birthday Honours - Southern recipients

Eighteen people from the South are recipients in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours.


Queenstown businessman Barry Thomas, awarded the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for...
Queenstown businessman Barry Thomas, awarded the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to tourism and business. PHOTO: TRACEY ROXBURGH

Barry Charles Thomas
Services to tourism and business

Queenstown businessman Barry Thomas said he was "a bit flattered'' by his Queen's Birthday Honour.

Mr Thomas (73), a chartered accountant, was appointed to the Skyline Enterprises board in 1975. At the age of 32 he became chairman, a position he held for 33 years.

Under his leadership Skyline grew to a market capitalisation of $780 million, employing more than 1000 full-time staff.

"Part of that success is because we made a point of looking after management and staff to get the results we did.''

He also oversaw the company's portfolio diversification, resulting in businesses throughout New Zealand and in Singapore, Canada and South Korea.

Of his honour, he said it was "pleasing'' to see tourism recognised.

"In the early times it was very difficult to get tourism understood, or recognised as a major industry for New Zealand.

"I spent a bit of time in tourism politics, trying to achieve that.''

In 1972 he established Mountain Scene, now owned by Allied Press, initially as a fortnightly tourist publication.

It is now one of New Zealand's most award-winning independent newspapers.

He was also instrumental in the development of the Skyline Luge, which first opened in Rotorua in 1985, helped expand that concept overseas and helped establish the Christchurch and Queenstown casinos and their charitable trusts.

Mr Thomas said one of his biggest career highlights was getting the first casino licence in New Zealand, for Christchurch, which opened in 1994.

He also had involvement with the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand; New Zealand Tourism Board; Christchurch International Airport and Queenstown Airport Corporation boards and the New Zealand Rugby Union board.



Jacquie Grant
Services to the community

Jacquie Grant (75), of Hokitika, says in 1997 she was the first transgender person to receive a Queen's Birthday Honour, when she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Now she is the first transgender person to have received a second honour, becoming an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Ms Grant is best known for her Hokitika sock museum, which grew from a hobby into a tourist and export business.

She believes she was nominated for an award for her nine years on the Human Rights Review Tribunal, about six or seven years on the Grey District Council, 13 years on the Winz Benefit Review Panel, lengthy periods with various community organisations and advocacy in the transgender community.

Today, she will be at work as usual but is likely to be wearing rainbow-coloured socks for the occasion.

As for retirement, Ms Grant says she "is going to have a look at it at 80''.


Annabel Rose Langbein
Services as a food writer

Annabel Langbein has been one of New Zealand's premier food writers for more than 30 years.

She said she was "humbled'' to receive a Queen's Birthday Honour and believed it reflected positively on the role of food in New Zealand.

"It feels like an endorsement of how important food is in our lives and of our New Zealand community taking a more engaged view of their lives and health through food.

"For me food has always been the unlimited connector that's totally inclusive.

"Regardless of where you are in life, when you cook you bring people together.''

Ms Langbein has self-published 25 cookbooks since 1988 and is one of New Zealand's highest-selling authors.

In 1991 she established the Culinary Institute of New Zealand, a specialist food marketing consultancy, through which she has undertaken marketing and media campaigns for food manufacturers, retailers and exporters.

She has promoted New Zealand food overseas as an ambassador for Trade New Zealand and is a member of the Sustainability Council of New Zealand.

Ms Langbein has had a home on the shores of Lake Wanaka for more than 15 years, and it was the setting for her cooking programme Annabel Langbein: The Free Range Cook, which has screened in 94 countries.


Emeritus Prof Helen Leach
For services to culinary anthropology

Prof Helen Leach (72) said she was "absolutely thrilled'' her honour mentioned her services to cultural anthropology.

"These two words represent what I've been working on for decades.''

Prof Leach has for more than 50 years researched the history of New Zealand, the archaeology and anthropology of Oceanic culture, and the social history and anthropology of horticultural practices.

Early in her career she would wonder about the specifics of the diet of early New Zealanders, such as how they structured their meals.

She has lectured at the University of Otago since 1969, is the author of 22 books, and has contributed more than 40 chapters to other publications.

In her 1984 publication 1000 Years of Gardening in New Zealand, she created an illustrated study of gardening throughout the entire period of human settlement in the country.

More recently she completed a 10-year project on culinary traditions among New Zealanders living in the past two centuries.

For the project she collected more than 2000 cookbooks which have been catalogued into a comprehensive database and is a significant resource for the field.

Prof Leach has published critically acclaimed books including The Pavlova Story: A Slice of New Zealand's Culinary History in 2008 and Kitchens: The New Zealand Kitchen in the 20th Century in 2014.



Prof Robert Matthew Love
Robina, Queensland
Services to dentistry and research

Prof Robert Love, formerly of the University of Otago, is a recognised international expert in dental accreditation, education and regulation, and a multi-award-winning researcher.

Prof Love (58), now living and working at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, held senior positions with the University of Otago's Faculty of Dentistry.

They included professor and head of department, department of oral diagnostic and surgical sciences; deputy dean; and discipline head of endodontics. He left Otago in late 2015.

He developed generalist and specialist clinical programmes that have educated New Zealanders and led to internationalisation, in particular providing higher education for practitioners from the Pacific Islands.

His training of specialist endodontists is recognised internationally as world standard and he trained the majority of practising endodontists in New Zealand.

Prof Love said he had a broad interest in all aspects of dentistry, but also in health education.

"In health education it was about striking a balance between quality and best standards, and the financial considerations,'' he said from Australia yesterday.

He is a member of the editorial boards of three major journal publications in his field and of the Asia Pacific Endodontic Federation.

He has given numerous national and international presentations and held governance positions with a number of professional organisations.

He was first appointed to the Dental Council in 2002 and served until 2011, including time as its chairman.

He was an inaugural member of the joint accreditation committee with the Australian Dental Council and initiated a partnership with the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada. Prof Love has been involved in international benchmarking of assessments of overseas dental practitioners to set global transparent standards.



William (Bill) O'Brien
Services to victim support and the prevention of domestic violence

A tireless advocate for victims who has been appointed Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit said the honour re-reinforced the importance of family violence prevention.

For several decades, Mosgiel man William (Bill) O'Brien (72) has made significant contributions to programmes aimed at preventing violence and supporting victims' rights.

Mr O'Brien, who had a 35-year career in the New Zealand Police, has been manager and a trustee of the Sophie Elliot Foundation for six years.

The foundation was established after the murder of Ms Elliot by her ex-boyfriend, to shift New Zealand's attitude towards violence in relationships and facilitate violence-prevention education.

"It's a hell of a good retirement job. I've had more satisfaction working for the foundation than I ever had in all the years I worked for wages,'' he said.

He is responsible for the trust's day-to-day operations, including its work to help young people foster healthy relationships through its Loves-Me-Not programmes in schools, which last year ran in 105 colleges across the country.

Together with Ms Elliot's mother, Lesley Elliot, he co-authored the book Loves Me Not: How to Keep Relationships Safe. He also helped Mrs Elliot write her book Sophie's Legacy.

All royalties from both books went to the Foundation.

He was also a key driver of the "Keeping Ourselves Safe'' programme, which has been run in primary schools for 30 years.


Gordon Rayner
Services to kayaking

Gordon Rayner loves being out on the water so much he has dedicated a good part of his life to making sure others can enjoy the same experience.

The 60-year-old feels passionate about making the outdoors accessible to youth.

"When I was a kid, I was in the Scouts and everyone went tramping. Those things really shaped my life,'' he said.

"The most rewarding thing is that I've helped create some opportunities for young people ... and it has changed their lives in a very positive way.''

Mr Rayner has been involved in kayaking for 45 years and since the early 1990s has campaigned to protect Central Otago rivers from development and damming.

He played an important role in developing the Hawea Whitewater Park and was one of the founding members of Central Otago Whitewater.

In 2000, he began coaching whitewater kayaking for youth. He also manages a beginner kayaking programme in Alexandra.

He also helps organise an annual whitewater camp on the Hawea River and has helped organise seven national and secondary school slalom championships in the lower South Island.

Mr Rayner has represented New Zealand at world championship level in slalom, freestyle and rafting, and is the current world masters slalom champion in his age group.


Alison (Ali) Mary Timms
Services to local government and the environment

Past Environment Southland chairwoman and councillor Ali Timms said she was "humbled'' and "surprised'' by becoming a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

"It's gratifying to be recognised for some of the things I've done.''

As a councillor on Environment Southland for three terms from 2001 and its chairwoman from 2010 to 2016, Ms Timms said she was proudest of the work she had done on Southland's water quality.

In response to Southland's intensified land use, Ms Timms initiated a scientific physiographic study of the region, a world first that gave critical information on water quality.

She worked with the community to involve it in the process.

"It was something quite unusual that we did. I guess that really progressed with the formation of catchment groups.

"Farmers decided they wanted to be part of the process themselves, set up some groups so they could be involved in the change ... people might listen to them more than they might listen to someone from the council.''

Through her time at the council, she believed the community became more engaged with the council.

"I think in my time as chair in particular, the community moved a long way to recognise `we do have some issues with water quality and we need to work together to find solutions'.''



Russell Kingsley Anderson
Services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Russell Anderson said he felt "mixed emotions'' when he learned he was to be awarded the Queen's Service Medal for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

The chief fire officer of the Alexandra Volunteer Fire Brigade for the past 15 years first joined the Fire Service in Port Chalmers 29 years ago, before transferring to Alexandra in 1996.

"I never really thought myself a candidate. I belong to a team, and we work as a team,'' Mr Anderson said. "Nothing I do is extraordinary; we do it as a team. To be nominated, I'm pretty humbled. I consider myself privileged.''

Mr Anderson (55) served as a member of the Regions Operation Committee, an advisory group on voluntary brigades, from 2006 to 2012.

"They were looking at success stories, I suppose, and because we had a really good brigade, they wanted to tap into what we were doing, what made our brigade great,'' he said. "But as I've maintained all along, it's nothing I've done, it's because we've got a great team. And the team equally contribute. Right down to the newest recruit, to the oldest serving member, everybody's got something to add.''

Mr Anderson went on to serve as president of the Central Otago Fire Brigades Sub Association.

After being elected to the executive committee of the Otago-Southland Provincial Fire Brigades Association, he then served as president.

He was vice-president of the United Fire Brigades Association of New Zealand in 2014, before becoming president in 2015 and 2016.

He was elected to the association's board of directors in 2016.

Mr Anderson was also a longtime president of the Central Otago Flying Club.


Ruth Margaret Arnison
Services to poetry and literature

Ruth Arnison has dedicated her life to getting writing into people's lives.

But it is a small piece of writing that arrived at her door - in the form of a letter from Government House - that really has her smiling.

Mrs Arnison (59), of Dunedin, is a recipient of the Queen's Service Medal for services to poetry and literature.

The award recognised her efforts heading the Poems in the Waiting Room charity, which donated cards of poetry to medical-practice waiting rooms, rest-homes, prisons and other locations to encourage people to sample the work.

It was a tactic she also employed through the "Poems on Steps'' project, in which poetry was added to steps, walls and other city locations where people could encounter it unexpectedly.

She was also the founder of Dunedin's Lilliput Library movement, which since 2016 has grown from a handful of wooden library boxes to more than 160 in Dunedin and other New Zealand centres.

Her work in literature was also credited with helping Dunedin gain its Unesco City of Literature status.

Mrs Arnison said she was "quite chuffed'' to be recognised, and thought it was "so cool'' the award was for poetry as well as literature.

"My whole thing is to take poetry off the page and into the community, because I think for a lot of people their very first - and maybe last - experience of poetry was probably at school, and it probably wasn't such a positive experience.''


Leslie Stephen Box
Services to the community

For almost 50 years, Les Box has been voluntarily serving the wider Port Chalmers community.

In recognition of those countless hours of volunteer work, the fifth-generation Port Chalmers resident has been awarded the Queen's Service Medal for services to the community.

One of his most notable achievements was playing a part in the establishment of the Lady Thorn Rhododendron Dell in Port Chalmers.

He was the chairman and co-ordinator of the group that transformed an unused quarry into a flourishing garden and tourist attraction.

He is also still involved in its ongoing maintenance.

As a member of the Port Chalmers and District Lions Club since 1998, Mr Box has held a number of leadership roles, including district governor in 2010 and 2011.

He is also a life member of the Port Chalmers Historical Society.

Other volunteer projects of his have included organising and running train trips for fundraising purposes, social events, children's Christmas picnics and support for Girls' Brigade in Otago.

Since 2013 he has been district co-ordinator for the Lions' Heads Up For Kids, a project that raises funds for allocation to under-privileged youth around New Zealand.

He is also serving his 15th year as chairman of the Port Chalmers Town Hall Society.

Alongside his volunteer work, Mr Box made a career as a locomotive engineer for New Zealand Railways from 1964 until his retirement in 2013.


Stewart Bull
Services to conservation and Maori

An Invercargill environmentalist has been awarded the Queen's Service Medal for his extensive services to conservation and Maori.

Stewart Bull's award said his work "has helped strengthen Maori cultural understanding within the wider Southland community''.

Mr Bull has been a member of the Southland Conservation Board for more than 15 years, and was a member of the Whenua Hou Committee, established under the Ngai Tahu Treaty settlement, from 2008 to 2016.

He has been Southland Conservation Board representative on the Murihiku Kaitiaki Roopu since 2008, and has been an honorary fisheries officer.

He was a founding member of both the Fiordland Marine Guardians and the South West Endangered Species Charitable Trust. He has been a member of the Titi (Beneficial) Islands Committee and the administering body of the Rakiura Titi Islands Committee for a number of years.

At present, he is chairman of the Titi (Beneficial) Islands Committee, and he has been on the board of the Pomona Island Trust.

He has been the chairman of Oraka Aparima Runaka, and is at present vice-chairman.

Mr Bull has worked alongside the Department of Conservation with many translocations, eradications, strandings, and historical work.


Paul Frederic Gordon Dewsbery
Services to the community

Timaru resident Paul Dewsbery was "pretty stunned'' to realise he had been awarded a Queen's Service Medal for services to the South Canterbury community for the past 40 years.

Mr Dewsbery (72) said the award also acknowledged people who had given him positive mentoring support, and everyone else who had worked with him.

All his efforts had involved teamwork, and even as chairman, he had been "just part of the team''.

Having been a member since 1980, he was particularly grateful to the Timaru Rotary Club, because of its humanitarian focus and the "opportunities to do things''.

He served as club president (1998-99), and honours award organisers said he had been "a driver of community fundraising and service activities''.

In Rotary he had found many "like-minded people'', had developed many friendships, and "it's been a lot of fun''.

He had also been been involved with the Mountain View Village Trust for 31 years, until last year, and played a key role in the development of this 95-home retirement village in Timaru.

A member of the charitable body's board from 1986, he was also chairman (2009-17).

He was also on the Board of Presbyterian Support South Canterbury (2007-15), and spent 10 years establishing and leading the Kiwi Can personal development programme for South Canterbury primary school pupils.


Richard Joseph
Services to the Lebanese community

Richard Joseph has been honoured with a Queen's Service Medal for his service to Dunedin's small but close-knit Lebanese community.

While the Cedars of Lebanon Club is not as active as it once was - it sold its building in 2003 and has scaled back its activities - it still links several Dunedin families together.

It was surprising and humbling for his services to the community, which include 20 years as president of the club, to be recognised, Mr Joseph said.

"I was quite taken aback when I was nominated,'' he said.

"It was just one of those things you do, and you do those because you want to do them and you're not looking for any recognition or reward.''

Dunedin is home to the world's southernmost Lebanese community. Between 1860 and 1900, pioneering young Lebanese left the Middle East and travelled almost as far from home as they could, to start new lives in Dunedin.

"Our community has lost a little of its structure and cohesion now, but it was a strong community when I was growing up,' Mr Joseph said.

"It is still a strong community but we no longer have the numbers we did when I was growing up.''

Cedars of Lebanon used to have gatherings on a regular basis - Mr Joseph recalled his father being at the club several times a week - but changing lifestyles and migration northwards had seen club attendance dwindle.

With the club now in recess, its focus had shifted to staging special events, Mr Joseph said.

"Those are always well attended.''


Ruth Victoria McNamara
Services to the community

When Ruth McNamara received an official-looking letter earlier this year, she thought it was a reply to a submission she had made on the euthanasia question.

Once she realised the letter was to inform her she was being awarded the Queen's Service Medal, she felt "quite uncomfortable about it'' and "put it away for a while''.

"I feel I don't deserve it, that it's not me,'' the Alexandra woman with an extensive history of volunteer service in the Central Otago community said.

"After all, you're not doing any of these things on your own. There's always a good team behind you,'' she said.

One of those behind the establishment of recycling and educational organisation Central Otago Wastebusters, Mrs McNamara was its chairman for 10 years and is a life member.

During her lengthy service with the Order of St John, she helped establish a combined church group that raised $50,000 for local causes through a fruit and vegetable stall.

She volunteers at the local food bank and has worked in a range of other charitable roles, including Meals on Wheels, patient transport, after-school care, and cooking classes for families on a limited budget.

In 1993 she was made a Member of the Order of St John, and in 2008 she received the Central Otago District Community Service Award.


Ronald Frederick Nind
Services to the community

Receiving a Queen's Birthday Honour is "not really my scene'', Ron Nind says.

However, the community work for which he has been recognised with a Queen's Service Medal very much is his scene.

The 81-year-old, an electrician by trade, said his involvement with a wide range of groups in Otago and Southland over the years had been a way of keeping active in retirement.

"You want to keep working and use your skills, and do something for the community at the same time.''

It was also a good way to meet people in the "close-knit'' Kelvin Heights community where he lived.

He was treasurer of the Invercargill East Lions Club for 13 years before moving to Queenstown in 2002. He then joined the Queenstown Lions, remaining a member until 2016, and for several years organised the club's involvement in delivering Meals on Wheels.

He has been a volunteer for the Wakatipu Yacht Club, starting and time-keeping races, and remains the welfare officer for the Queenstown RSA.

As a member of the Kelvin Peninsula Community Association, he is a leader of its weekly volunteer working group, which carries out track clearing and maintenance, native planting and wilding pine removal.

He is also involved in an association project to raise funds for a flying fox in Jardine Park by operating its log splitter and distributing firewood to residents, as well as personally delivering firewood to local senior citizens during the winter.


Dr Grant Leslie Norbury
Services to conservation

Dr Grant Norbury, of Alexandra, is passionate about the importance of biodiversity and conservation.

"Both are critical to the future of mankind. They have to be a core part of how we operate as a society,'' says the scientist who led the establishment of the Central Otago Ecological Trust and has been its chairman since 2005.

Protection of the environment had to be an integral part of how we used the land - "not just an add-on'', he says.

"We have to make its protection more robust.''

The trust aims to support and further the restoration of dryland ecosystems through the reintroduction of native lizards and other threatened fauna.

Dr Norbury was instrumental in the establishment of predator-proof enclosures near Alexandra to provide a habitat for grand and Otago skinks and jewelled geckos. And he helped secure funding to expand the Mokomoko Dryland Sanctuary at Aldinga Conservation Area.

He has had science leadership roles with Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research over about 30 years, investigating the role of mammalian pests in New Zealand ecosystems. He is a member of the Takahe Recovery Group, and has given his time to help children get hands-on experience with New Zealand species, particularly lizards.

Dr Norbury says he feels "really honoured'' to receive the QSM but sees it as an acknowledgment not just of him but of the team of people he works with. He is "chuffed'' someone recognised the importance of the work they do.


Rosemarie Searle
Services to the community and sport

Rosemarie Searle has supported the Kumara community in a range of roles and organisations since 1995.

Ms Searle taught at Kumara School between 1995 and 2005, organising school sports, and coached children's softball, running six junior teams in her own time.

In 1995 she joined the Kumara Community Trust, where she has been co-ordinator of the provisioning contract for the Coast to Coast multisport event, involving preparing meals for some 1200 contestants, and helped raise $200,000 towards community projects.

Following an accident in 2005 that left her with a traumatic brain injury, she retired from teaching and active sports and retrained as a diversional therapist.

She was employed by Kowhai Manor rest-home in Greymouth and took on additional voluntary activities, fundraising for and organising Christmas and birthday functions for residents.

She continued with community trust work and sport administration, and took on the role of publisher of the community newsletter Gold Trails.

She has been involved with the local Lions club and has researched Kumara history.

Ms Searle was a member of the Kumara Hall Committee from 2006-15 and the Kumara Sports Ground Committee from 2000-10.

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