Queen's Birthday Honours: The Southern recipients


Singer Jonathan Lemalu, who received an ONZM for services to opera. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Singer Jonathan Lemalu, who received an ONZM for services to opera. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN

Faafetai (Jonathan) Lemalu


For services to opera

Former Dunedin bass-baritone opera singer Jonathan Lemalu has credited his family, his tutors and "the huge support" from Dunedin’s multicultural, school, church and university communities, for receiving a New Zealand Order of Merit for services to opera.

"I’m proud to represent us all. This award is ours. It’s a huge honour indeed, particularly in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year."

He said he was also proud to follow in the footsteps of his mother Ali’itasi, who was awarded an MNZM in 2007, for services to the Pacific Islands community.

The Dunedin-born singer is a Grammy Award winner, performing internationally at venues including London’s Royal Opera House and New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

Professor Lemalu graduated from London’s Royal College of Music with distinction and the college’s top award, the Tagore Gold Medal, presented by Prince Charles.

He won the 2000 Llangollen International Singer of the World competition in Wales, he represented New Zealand with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Olympics Arts Festival in 2000 and performed in the NZSO’s first BBC Promenade concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 2005.

He sang at the United Kingdom memorial service for Sir Edmund Hillary at Windsor Castle in 2008, and he performed national anthems at the 2011 Rugby World Cup and the Maori All Blacks versus Manu Samoa test match in 2021.

He is a patron of the Virtuoso Strings Orchestra, performing with young Porirua-based musicians, and gives vocal masterclasses at Otago, Auckland, Canterbury and Victoria Universities.

Prof Lemalu is a professor of voice at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Anne Urlwin
Anne Urlwin
Anne Urlwin


For services to business

A career contributing to the New Zealand business community has earned Anne Urlwin the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business.

Ms Urlwin, of Wanaka, has been a director, chartered accountant and business consultant for more than 20 years.

She began her career with accounting firm KPMG before moving into senior management roles in the information technology and meat industries.

After that, Ms Urlwin moved into governance roles with experience in multiple sectors ranging from start-ups to publicly listed and private companies.

She is currently director of various businesses, including Precinct Properties New Zealand, Summerset Group Holdings, Vector, and Ventia.

Ms Urlwin also chairs the Audit and Risk Committee of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu and also serves on the boards of City Rail Link and Queenstown Airport.

Previously, she was deputy chairwoman of Southern Response Earthquake Services, chairwoman of the New Zealand Blood Service and the Naylor Love Construction Group.

Ms Urlwin also held several directorships with crown companies and sporting organisations including New Zealand Hockey.

She is also a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Directors in New Zealand and a member of the Institute’s national council. She is also a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

Last year, she and three other directors, won the New Zealand Shareholders Association’s Beacon Award for their actions as directors of Tilt Renewables which was subject to a takeover offer in 2018.

The directors advised the company’s minority shareholders to reject the offer — an outstanding example of principle and courage, the association said.


John Bezett
John Bezett
John Tyson Bezett


For services to sport and recreation

A long-awaited reunion with children and grandchildren in Australia has given John Bezett a chance to reflect on a 30-year involvement with the New Zealand Masters Games that has delivered great friends and wonderful memories.

Mr Bezett, chairman of the popular sporting event from 1993 until 2021, was just getting used to having MNZM after his name when he hopped on a plane.

"It’s certainly an honour, and has taken me somewhat by surprise. It’s like getting a reward for something you really enjoy, so of course it’s about all the people I’ve been involved with at the Masters Games.

"In particular, the volunteers and the co-ordinators and managers — these are good people — not to mention wonderful sponsors. They all deserve a medal."

Mr Bezett is a passionate advocate for the Masters Games and the benefits the event can offer to participants.

He played a bunch of sports when he was younger — "I just never stopped training" — and the games were an opportunity to keep that competitive flame burning.

"It gives everybody a chance to compete. We have Olympians, but we also have people who have never done anything in their lives.

"There are huge benefits in terms of health and fitness. People get a reason to get into shape and compete and also socialise and meet new people. I’ve made some of my best friends being involved with the Masters Games."

The games are New Zealand’s largest sporting event, attracting about 5000 competitors to Dunedin and Whanganui in alternate years, and pumping up to $5million into the local economy.

"The fact I’ve been given this award is recognition of the games, and I’m really proud of that, because it’s such a worthy event."

The Dunedin games were cancelled this year due to Covid but should return in 2024.

Mr Bezett was also a member of the Dunedin City Council for 24 years.

Sandra Borland
Sandra Borland
Sandra Borland


For services to nursing and the Pacific community

Sandy Borland told her mum when she was 3 that she was going to be a nurse, and she has indeed made caring for the community her life’s work.

For more than 30 years, in paid and voluntary roles, she has tended both to people’s health needs and also the needs of what was originally a small Pacific Island community in Southland.

Mrs Borland joined the Pacific Health

Clinic soon after opened it opened in February 2002.

"We had one nurse doing half a day when it first started, then it went to one day shared between two nurses," Mrs Borland said.

"I came on board probably six months later ... we went from one patient a week, to three, and now we have about 2000 people on our books, it has grown hugely since then."

As well as serving the southern Pacific community, the clinic had served to bring it together, Mrs Borland said.

"We have a lot of transient people who come here for work. They arrive from the islands with no GP and existing health issues ... we now run a two-room, nurse-led clinic, twice a week."

Mrs Borland has been a voluntary key leader for Miharo Murihiku Trust since 2009, aiding its work in the fields of arts, culture, education and youth development.

She has been an office holder in the Pacifica Invercargill organisation, including two stints as president, and is the current vice-president.

The organisation played an important part in the response to the 2019 measles outbreak in Samoa, gathering baby products, baby baths, Vaseline and other items for nurses in the islands.

Mrs Borland has also served on several advisory boards and been part of the Southern District Health Board’s Pacific Island case management team since 2004.

Chris Chilton
Chris Chilton
Chris Chilton


For his contributions to music and journalism

Chris Chilton said he was "happy to be a small part of getting wider recognition for Southland’s arts and entertainment".

Music was ingrained in Chilton from an early age. His father was a jazz musician, and would often host jazz nights on his farm in Hedgehop, instilling in Chris a love of the form.

He has spent than four decades writing about and performing music in the area and beyond.

"Pretty much from when I started for the Southland Times, I was writing about music, about local bands and local acts and that sort of stuff.

"It’s always been the case that for a place with such a small population, we always produce a disproportionate number of really talented people who go on to make their names nationally or internationally, either music or arts or performance. We produce so many artistically talented creative people down here. It’s kind of a seductive environment to get involved in."

Though he no longer works in journalism, he keeps his passion alive by continuing to write reviews for local plays and musical theatre.

"Traditionally, in the old days when I was a kid, it was all about rugby, racing and beer, and if you were into the arts or the music or stage performance, you were kind of an outsider. But even during my time at school and beyond, the generation after me have had so many opportunities and it’s not only welcomed, it’s embraced now as part of the culture."

Chris said the award was extra special for him, as his father, Bruce Chilton, was also a recipient of the Queen’s Service medal in 1998.

Margaret Fraser
Margaret Fraser
Margaret Fraser


For services to hepatology

"Totally surprised and totally humbled" is Dunedin nurse Margaret Fraser’s response to her work in hepatology being recognised.

During her 30 years working for the Southern District Health Board she has become a clinical nurse specialist, and seen public attitudes to the liver diseases she treats — specifically hepatitis — mature and change.

Hepatitis C was originally regarded as a disease which was a by-product of addiction or lifestyle, but for Mrs Fraser it was simply a disease which had afflicted a person.

She set up the first clinic at the Otago Corrections Facilities to diagnose and treat patients with hepatitis C, worked alongside the Dunedin Intravenous Drug Users Organisation and the Community Alcohol and Substances Service, and organised hui with gang members to test, treat and educate people about hepatitis.

"You cannot judge anybody unless you have walked a mile in their shoes," Mrs Fraser said.

"The most important thing is that you treat everybody as an equal, and even the most difficult people you can find something to love in their character, and I always try the very best for my patients, be articulate for them and go in to bat for them so they get the very best treatment possible."

The clinical nurse specialist representative of the South Island Alliance Hepatitis C working group, Mrs Fraser is also involved with local campaigner Hazel Heal’s ongoing effort to stamp out hepatitis in Niue.

Without the support of various doctors, professors and fellow clinicians Mrs Fraser said she could not have achieved what she did.

"When I had my ideas, they were there to help and take it up to the next level."

Estelle Pura Pera-Leask
Estelle Pura Pera-Leask
Estelle Pura Pera-Leask


For services to conservation and Maori

The work Estelle Pera-Leask does towards the restoration and recovery of native species is inherently linked with her Ngai Tahu identity.

Mrs Pera-Leask (52) is a member Te Runanga o Awarua in Bluff and a senior environmental adviser for Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu.

She has become a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to conservation and Maori.

"From a Ngai Tahu perspective, the loss of these species is the loss of our culture, our identity, our customs — and we just cannot allow that to happen," Mrs Pera-Leask said.

"I’ll work for the rest of my life to make sure that we protect what we can for our future generations."

She was humbled by today’s recognition and said it was due to the support of the Bluff community, many amazing volunteers, and her husband, Peter Leask.

Mrs Pera-Leask contributes to conservation efforts at every level from checking traps to providing strategic direction for programmes.

Since 2008, she has been chairwoman, volunteer co-ordinator and Te Korowai Whakahou native plant nursery co-ordinator for the Bluff Hill Motupohue Environment Trust.

She joined Southland Conservation Board in 2018 and is a director on the board of Predator Free 2050 Ltd and Predator Free New Zealand Trust.

She led the development of two Ngai Tahu aspirations documents for the Maukahuka — Pest Free Auckland Island Project and Predator Free Rakiura.

She is Murihiku iwi liaison to the Department of Conservation for Predator Free Rakiura and is a trustee on the Whenua Hou komiti.

She supports numerous other Southland environmental volunteer programmes.

Paul McEwan
Paul McEwan
Paul McEwan


For services to neonatal care

Paul Ernest McEwan’s motto "make a difference, every day" has unpinned 30 years of voluntarily chairing the Canterbury Neonatal Unit Trust.

This week he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to neonatal care.

The former representative cricketer established the trust after he and his wife, Julie, delivered three of their four children prematurely in the early 1990s.

Their first child, Victoria, was born without complications but their first son, Brook, died from lung development issues as a newborn, in 1990.

Twins Matthew and Ryan were also born early in 1992 and were "very sick little boys".

"After those 105 days we walked out of hospital with the boys and I said, "Look, I want to do something". So I set up the trust and 30 years on, I am still running it," Mr McEwan said.

Mr McEwan said the award recognised the efforts of his wife, trust volunteers and neonatal carers.

"Their work continues, when and where necessary, supporting nursing staff, researchers and families of sick and premature babies," he said.

"I am just a parent ... We have amazing nurses and a profession that is by and large, unsung," he said.

Since 1992, the trust has raised more than $600,000 for support services and equipment in Canterbury and Westland, including incubators, travelling costs, and funding New Zealand’s first human milk bank at Christchurch Women’s Hospital.

Mr McEwan was a cricket representative in the amateur era, playing four tests and 17 one-day internationals for the Black Caps and making more than 100 appearances for Canterbury.

He worked as a financial planner and adviser before retiring to Wanaka in late 2020.

Holly Robinson
Holly Robinson
Holly Irene Robinson


For services to athletics

There is more to throwing the javelin than winning medals and breaking records for Holly Robinson.

The long-awaited gold medal she won in the F46 javelin at last year’s Tokyo Paralympics was certainly a highlight.

Her silver medal at the Rio Games, as well as her collection of medals from world championships and Commonwealth Games, rate highly too.

However, the 27-year-old Dunedin athlete, who was born with a shortened left arm, her motivation is as much showing a disability does not have to hold her back.

"There’s a couple of reasons why I do my sport," she said.

"One is because I love it. I truly love athletics and what sport gives me as a person.

"But there’s this thing that, I was always looked upon on a sports field as very different to other people. In a way, me doing these things and going to the Paralympics and achieving is a way of showing people that anything is possible.

"If you want something and you worked hard for it, it can be there for you. I had a lot of people that didn’t believe in me when I was younger, because of my arm.

"Sport is a way I can show people I can do what I want to do. I’ve worked hard, it hasn’t been an easy road that’s for sure.

"But last year I got there. Now I’ve got new goals I’m looking for and I’m working towards those and hopefully I get there as well."

Robinson said some days she looks at her gold medal and it still did not seem real to have won it.

However, she felt it represented "so much hard work" from both herself and her support staff.

She said she was "over the moon" when she found she had received her honour.

Robinson is in Australia for the Oceania Championships and hopes to defend her title at the Paris Paralympics in 2024.

Karla Sanders
Karla Sanders
Karla Sanders


For services to bullying prevention

When Karla Sanders started Sticks’n Stones in 2013 she thought it would be a small project.

Almost a decade later, the youth-led bullying prevention initiative has gone from strength to strength, annually affecting up to 1000 school pupils throughout Central Otago and Southland through in-person programmes.

"We thought it would be a small project that would run for a year and then finish, but we know the power of it was the youth empowerment."

Since then, Mrs Sanders has continued to champion young people, working with the Ministry of Education to make student action a central part of annual Bully Free NZ week and partnering with Facebook to present workshops in more than 40 schools nationwide and empower them to create positive change — online and in their schools and communities.

She also co-designed ICON.org.nz, a web application giving young people honest, practical and relatable strategies when they are experiencing negativity online.

ICON went on to win the Not-for-Profit Technology Innovator of the Year award at the 2019 New Zealand Charities Tech Awards.

Hearing news she was to become a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to bullying prevention, Mrs Sanders initially thought it was a scam.

"I still don’t really think it’s real."

A lot of the success came down to the "phenomenal rangatahi" (young people) she worked with, she said.

The honour was particularly special as her grandfather had received an OBE.

"My dad is just beside himself because I’m following in my grandad’s footprints and he is just so proud."

Mark Sutton
Mark Sutton
Mark Robertson Sutton

Te Anau

For services to conservation

Conservation can be a lonely journey at times, Mark Sutton says.

There were times he felt like a lone voice along the way.

Nevertheless, as the 45-year veteran of conservation in Western Southland became a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit he said he was humbled by the recognition, but also grateful for the people who supported his work.

"I have had great support from my wife, Ann, our children, Hollie and Steven, and my wider family," Mr Sutton said.

The 67-year-old Te Anau resident said he created friendships with land owners and land managers along the way.

He had also been extremely fortunate over the past quarter century working with people at Waiau Fisheries and Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Trust and the Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) National Trust.

Mr Sutton has been improving fisheries and wildlife habitat in Southland since he began as a field officer for the Southland Acclimatisation Society in 1977.

He moved to Fish & Game in 1990, then The Waiau Trust in 1997.

He has been a board member for the New Zealand Game Bird Habitat Trust since 2015 and the Mid Dome Wilding Trees Charitable Trust from 2010 to 2016.

His approach focuses on habitat creation and land management to improve wildlife outcomes and water quality.

He has worked on a variety of projects including Waimatuku since 1992, Rakatu since 2000, and the Waiau mouth whitebait ponds.

Mr Sutton has been instrumental in using direct seeding technology to plant native forests at scale.

His work has helped connect protected land parcels in an emerging Mountains to the Sea continuum of protected waterways under the QEII and Waiau Trusts.

Dr Mai Mohammed Hamdi Tamimi
Dr Mai Mohammed Hamdi Tamimi
Dr Mai Mohammed Hamdi Tamimi


For services to ethnic communities

A life contributing to Middle Eastern culture and interfaith dialogues in Dunedin, have earned Dr Mai Tamimi the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to ethnic communities.

She arrived from Palestine in 2008, to obtain a PhD from the University of Otago.

Dr Tamimi is now the Dunedin City Council community development team leader.

Previously, she was Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora Middle Eastern integration co-ordinator from 2017 to 2018.

Since arriving in New Zealand, she has focused on the cultural wellbeing of women and youth, and provided cultural and intercultural competence services.

She has worked to break down stereotypes of Muslim women through her work with interfaith groups and has delivered crisis services for ethnic communities.

She gave major support to the Muslim community following the March 15, 2019 Christchurch terror attack and was a member of the Royal Commission ministerial advisory group.

She also delivered food and care parcels for families following the terror attack and during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She has made herself available 24/7 to help those in need — particularly refugee families integrating into society, providing assistance as an interpreter and maintaining social contact with families to ensure they felt supported.

Dr Tamimi is on the board of Host International New Zealand, working to bring the experiences of former refugees to the design and implementation of resettlement and broader community support services in New Zealand.

She also volunteers with the Dunedin Abrahamic Interfaith Group.


Lakes District Museum director David Clarke received a QSM for services to heritage preservation....
Lakes District Museum director David Clarke received a QSM for services to heritage preservation. PHOTO: CASS MARRETT
David Clarke


For services to heritage preservation

For Lakes District Museum director David Clarke, who for 32 years has worked his dream job, being awarded the Queen’s Service Medal is an honour.

"One of the first things I did as a museum director was host the Queen and Prince Philip to the museum in February 1990," Mr Clarke said.

"Getting near the end of my career, that’s a nice bookend to be recognised on the Platinum Jubilee."

Awarded for services to heritage preservation, Mr Clarke struggles to name just one thing he’s proud of, but said his most recent project, earthquake strengthening the Lakes District Museum and restoring the former Bank of New Zealand building was a highlight.

Other "wins" for Mr Clarke included spearheading the restoration of the Arrowtown Miners Cottages, the purchase and protection of the Arrowtown Post Office and Postmaster’s House, the restoration of the Arrowtown Gaol, work on Williams Cottage in Queenstown, and work with Department of Conservation on the Chinese Settlement.

He curated more than 150 art and history exhibitions and has co-ordinated more than 600 hours of oral history recordings of Queenstown Lakes District citizens — and said he’d like to do more.

Mr Clarke was also actively involved in the community and local government, acting as the Independent Hearings Commissioner and is a former Arrowtown councillor.

Mr Clarke credited his success to the support of his family, and said he accepted the Queen’s Service Medal on behalf of everyone who works in the heritage and arts quarter.

"I also accept it on behalf of all the people in the community that volunteer because the Whakatipu is an amazing community for people doing stuff and volunteering.

"I’m just one person that’s done it for longer than others."

Eleanor Doig
Eleanor Doig
Eleanor Doig


For service to the community

Eleanor Doig sees her Queen’s Birthday honour as recognition for South Dunedin.

"There’s so much work going on in South Dunedin," the South Dunedin Community Network chairwoman said.

"It’s done by heaps of people, not just me."

Ms Doig was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal for service to the community.

The need for a community network became evident after 2015 flooding, she said.

Ms Doig has chaired the South Dunedin Community Network since it started in 2018 and she said it had two main aims.

One was for South Dunedin to be at the fore when decisions were made about climate change and the other was to build a sense of community pride.

Ms Doig’s citation said she had applied years of knowledge working with the challenging social and environmental issues South Dunedin faced, such as flooding, to support the community to be better prepared.

The low-lying suburb, home to more than 10,000 people, has been at the centre of groundwater research and environmental planning.

The South Dunedin Community Network signed up for a five-year programme last year, supported by the Department of Internal Affairs, to achieve goals pitched by the community.

Also, the Government and KiwiRail are redeveloping Hillside railway workshops, the Dunedin City Council plans to build a library in the suburb and a housing development is one possibility at the former Forbury Park racecourse.

Ms Doig’s citation noted her involvement in organising the South Dunedin Street Festival and her membership of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors and the New Zealand Religious Society of Friends.

Barbara Hanna
Barbara Hanna
Barbara Anne Hanna


For services to the community

Still volunteering after 53 years, it is her love for the West Otago community that keeps Queen’s Service Award recipient Barbara Hanna going.

The Tapanui woman has served her community in a variety of areas including sport, arts and events.

She was shocked to learn she had been selected for the award, she said.

"Everything that I do, I don’t do it for recognition. I do it because I enjoy it. I do it for my community."

As the West Otago Community Board chairwoman since 2010, she has helped achieve several projects for the area such as the erection of a cellphone tower, a back-up generator for the community centre, welcome signs at Heriot and Tapanui, flood barriers, and an aged care and medical centre.

"I think it was probably my parents that instilled in me the value of doing something for a community, because they always did too," she said.

Those values have driven her to organise the Tapanui Christmas Parade for many years, as well as help organise major events such as the 2013 Goldfields Heritage Trust Cavalcade.

"I’ve enjoyed everything I do. It’s not a hardship," she said.

She was passionate about netball and had taken on administration roles with the Blue Mountain College, West Otago and Otago Country Netball Union and served on the Netball Otago Incorporated board.

With theatre being another of her passions, she has also been involved with the West Otago Theatrical Society since it first began in 1982, even serving as its president from 2000-2002 and 2011-2013.

"I always believe you should put something back into your community," she said.

Sam Inder
Sam Inder
Samuel Bruce (Sam) Inder


For services to the community

Sam Inder’s family has a track record in community service — and he has been no different.

Driven by a desire to make his community a better place to live in, Mr Inder (78), of Naseby, has contributed decades of service through farming, sport and governance in Otago.

Receiving recognition was a "very pleasant surprise" and he acknowledged he was invariably surrounded by a good team. Family support had also been crucial, including that of wife Wendy.

A highlight, while farming at Middlemarch, was being involved with the installation of a rural water scheme, supplying household and stock water to about 20 farms between Middlemarch and Deep Stream.

The community banded together and it was a "great achievement" in what was very dry country, he said.

A former national president of Young Farmers, Mr Inder led a study tour to Australia in 1976 and was responsible for the financial organisation of the Third International Farm Youth Exchange World Conference in Christchurch.

He served as president of the Strath Taieri Rugby Club, president of the Lions Club, church warden of St Chads Anglican Church and chairman of the Strath Taieri Community Board. He managed the Royal Albatross Centre on Otago Peninsula between 2001 and 2010.

Another highlight was leading the team that built and managed the Dunedin student hall of residence now known as Caroline Freeman College.

Curling has been a passion and he has been president, chairman and executive member of the New Zealand Curling Association. He was made a life member in 2020.

He ran the curling programme for the 2019 men’s and women’s world championships and several other Winter Games events between 2009 and 2019.

He was "in the background more now" in the sport but always available for advice.

Paul Klemick
Paul Klemick
Paul Klemick


For services to historic research

Paul Klemick has been documenting and piecing together Polish history for over 20 years, but when he was told he had been recognised with a Queen’s Service Medal for services to historic research he thought it was a hoax.

Mr Klemick became a founding member of the Polish Heritage Trust of Otago and Southland in 1998 when Otago was celebrating 150 years of the region being settled by non-indigenous people.

He has documented a comprehensive catalogue of all available information regarding churches, graves, points of interest and events of Polish significance in New Zealand.

He remains a current trustee and board member.

Through the trust, Mr Klemick provides access to his research and findings on Polish heritage, providing a way for Polish settlers in New Zealand and around the world to connect.

When he first found out about the award, Mr Klemick thought it was a hoax.

"It was a shock."

Being recognised for his efforts felt surreal, but humbling, he said.

"I have enjoyed researching and helping people and working with a group of such talented colleagues."

He was awarded the Polish medal Chwalba Grzymislawa in 2003 for his efforts in documenting Polish migration history to New Zealand.

In 2008, he and his colleagues in the trust received the highest civilian award that can be granted in Poland, the Polish Gold Cross, which was awarded for their work in preserving Polish culture in New Zealand.

Jeanette Margaret (Kate) Leebody
Jeanette Margaret (Kate) Leebody
Jeanette Margaret (Kate) Leebody


For services to netball and the community

Netball was a great way to connect with her pupils outside the classroom and 50-plus years later, Ms Kate Leebody’s service to the sport and education has been acknowledged with a Queen’s Service Medal.

"When you are a teacher, the teaching outside the classroom becomes very important so you start coaching," she said.

"You form a different bond and basically you are viewed differently."

She always loved netball, so it was a good fit.

Ms Leebody taught in Niue before moving to Southland to teach at Gore High School from 1969 to 1978 and at St Peter’s College from 1979 until she retired in 2014.

She led a team to set up the Hokonui Tertiary High School in conjunction with Southern Institute of Technology’s Gore Campus and Telford Farm Training Centre, for senior students wanting structured vocational training with qualifications.

She has coached and managed netball teams throughout her teaching years and held executive roles on the Eastern Southland Netball Committee, including president. She was an inaugural member and subsequent chairwomen of the Southern Team Co Franchise Board which was the organisation behind the champion Sting team which dominated provincial netball in New Zealand.

She also helpled secure sponsorship of $1 million for the multi-sport event centre in Gore, and worked with the Ministry of Education to ensure funds were allocated so that schools in the Eastern Southland area could use the stadium at no cost.

Ms Leebody has received several awards acknowledging her commitment to the Southland and wider community, including life membership of Netball Eastern Southland in 2004.

Neil Rex McDermott
Neil Rex McDermott
Neil Rex McDermott


For services to music promotion and the community

An Invercargill resident who has contributed to rugby and music for half a century has received the Queen’s Service Medal for services to music promotion and the community.

Neil Rex McDermott said he was excited to be given the award, which was not just about him as there was a long list of people who had helped him achieve his dreams over the years.

First and foremost was his wife, Susan, who was always right behind him, Mr McDermott said.

His career began at 18 years old, managing a local band.

He later worked as entertainment convener for the Makarewa Country Club from 1985 to 1989.

In the 1990s, he began a campaign to have Southland artists who achieved national or international success publicly recognised in Invercargill, resulting in the city council establishing a walk of fame outside the Civic Theatre.

Mr McDermott also helped found the Southland Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame. One of his proudest moments was seeing people lined up around the block waiting to get in to its second show.

In 2006, he researched and helped deliver the book 45 South: In Concert about Southland musicians.

Mr McDermott has also volunteered with Rugby Southland for more than 15 years and co-written articles in the 1970s on Southland Rugby.

Some wonderful talent had come out of Invercargill over the years and he was motivated by the satisfaction he got from building connections with others, he said.

Graeme Rice
Graeme Rice
Graeme Rice


For services to traffic and road safety

Road safety stalwart Graeme Rice, of Dunedin, says he has seen a tremendous amount of progress on road safety over his 46-year career, for which he has received the Queen’s Service Medal in the Queen’s Birthday honours for services to traffic and road safety.

Mr Rice, who retired in 2020 to Ravensbourne, Dunedin, said it was very humbling to think he had been put forward for the award.

The honour had taken him by surprise and he had never expected the lad who left high school after his third year and was told by a teacher he would end up a dustman would wind up receiving one.

His career started with a close shave, as when he applied for his first role with the Ministry of Transport in 1974, he was almost rejected as an applicant due to an unruly moustache.

Fortunately his wife’s role as a teacher got him over the line because the ministry wanted to run more education programmes.

The proudest moment in his career was the completion of the $3million "Drive Plan" driver education resource which covered all aspects of driver education in 1990, a project which he managed.

A close second was helping to introduce safety standards for imported bicycles.

Mr Rice held various positions with six different transport organisations over the years, including working for the Ministry of Transport in Dunedin from 1974 to 1994 where he served as a traffic instructor, district manager and transport licensing officer.

From when he started until when he retired there had been a lot of progress, with deaths on the road no longer being seen as acceptable, he said.

Ann Robbie
Ann Robbie
Elizabeth Ann Robbie


Service to historical research

Southland’s Elizabeth Ann Robbie has been uncovering and preserving war memorials for more than 30 years, but believes her efforts could not be completed without the support of the communities.

She has dedicated her time and resources to supporting the preservation and restoration of more than 400 memorials throughout Southland.

These memorials ranged from large public cenotaphs to gates to small memorial boards.

Mrs Robbie felt "honoured and humbled" to receive the Queen’s Service Medal.

"I don’t think I deserve to receive this award because there have been many people who have helped support me with each memorial, but I want to thank all the people who have supported me over the years."

Each memorial held a "special" place in her heart, Mrs Robbie said."

Some of the projects she led included the Makarewa World War 1 honour board which featured the name of four nurses, and the McKenzie Brother Memorial flag pole which was discovered on Bluff Hill last year.

The location of these war memorials and others has been compiled into Southland’s Kia Mate Toa database which focused on enabling Southlanders to understand the service and sacrifice of Southland’s soldiers.

For more than 45 years, Mrs Robbie has provided her services as a bagpiper at Anzac Day services and funerals in the district.

She has tutored young pipers in the City of Invercargill Highland Pipe Band and played with the Winton and Districts and Waimatuku Pipe Bands.

Winifred Solomon
Winifred Solomon
Winifred Solomon


For services to Maori culture and heritage

After more than 40 years of teaching the art of raranga, or flax weaving, in Invercargill, Wini Solomon has been recognised for the indigenous culture she brought to her community.

Ms Solomon was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to Maori Culture and heritage.

Ms Solomon has taught at local schools, community centres and marae.

She was a tutor of raranga with Te Wananga o Aotearoa based at the Southland Institute of Technology for 10 years.

Alongside teaching raranga, she teaches the Maori practices associated with gathering, using and disposing of leftover flax.

Mrs Solomon received the Kaitiaki Tohu Pai Guardian Award at the Southland Community Environment awards in 2018 for raranga.

She said she left Auckland and moved to Invercargill 40 years ago with her husband, but brought the arts with them.

At the time Invercargill had very little Maori culture of any sort, she said.

Those who wanted to engage in the culture would spend hours weaving, talking and laughing.

"I gave my knowledge and taught freely to anyone that wished to learn."

Learning the art of raranga Ms Solomon felt a burning drive to learn all she could.

The passion of her teachers flowed into her, which she passed on to countless others she had taught, she said.

Raranga was the heritage, art, knowledge and treasure of those indigenous to New Zealand.

It was important to pass the knowledge down to future generations to keep the culture alive and the people connected.

Mrs Solomon said she was shocked to hear she had been recognised with the award as she never looked for praise.

"I just sat with my learners until I could hear their delight with what they had achieved."