Dame Silvia and Sir Tipene lead honours list

Dame Silvia Cartwright
Dame Silvia Cartwright
New Zealand’s first female High Court judge and a man who has worked tirelessly for the betterment of Maori have received the highest honours in this year’s Queen’s Birthday and Platinum Jubilee Honours list.

Dame Silvia Cartwright and Sir Tipene O’Regan have been appointed to the Order of New Zealand, which has a capped number of members and is the highest honour in the New Zealand system.

They lead this year’s 187-strong honour list, which also includes three new dames - (Ruth Aitken, Judge Carolyn Henwood and Judith McGregor) and three new knights (Patrick Hohepa, Hugh Rennie and Collin Tukuitonga).

Sports stars - rugby league player Benji Marshall and Black Cap Ross Taylor - have both been appointed as Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Award-winning film and television producer and director Chelsea Winstanley has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Dame Silvia (78) was recognised for her huge contribution across many fields including women’s health, justice and as New Zealand’s 18th governor-general. Sir Tipene was recognised for the pivotal part he played in improving the economic and social standing of Maori communities.

After her tenure as governor-general, Dame Silvia served from 2007 to 2014 as one of two international trial judges on the Cambodian War Crimes Tribunal investigating the Khmer Rouge period.

She was also part of the United Nations investigation of alleged war crimes and human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, and at present chairs the executive board investigating international law breaches by North Korea.

In 2019, Dame Silvia led the public inquiry into the Earthquake Commission.

She describes herself as a "judicial thinker" and "not a political thinker", and made it clear she was not a politician.

She said she was drawn to law because there were very few interesting careers open to women when she was a young student.

"At my school it was teaching, nursing or medicine because I was at Otago, and I wasn’t able or interested to do any of those so I chose law," Dame Silvia said.

She said it was pretty lonely and difficult being a female lawyer, but believed things had improved now and it "unquestionably" was a wonderful profession for women.

Dame Silvia said she was most proud of having presided over the government inquiry into unethical research practices related to the treatment of cervical cancer at National Women’s Hospital.

"But certainly my favourite job of the whole lot was my eight years spent in Cambodia doing the war crimes tribunal there," she said.

Sir Tipene O'Regan
Sir Tipene O'Regan
Sir Tipene was pivotal in bringing about the 1997 Ngai Tahu Deed of Settlement and the subsequent Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998.

These laid the foundations for a tribal asset portfolio that at present stands in excess of $1.8 billion.

Sir Tipene said being recognised in the Queen’s Honours list came as a shock as he thought an "old chap" like him was "off people’s radar" by now.

Now 83, he is one of the country’s most respected and admired kaumatua who has dedicated himself to building a bicultural nation.

He plans to celebrate with his family, surrounded by his 13 grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Judge Carolyn Henwood is a new Dame Companion for the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the State, youth and the arts.

Dr Judy McGregor, a lawyer and former professor at Massey University and AUT, was made a dame for services to human rights and health.

Ruth Aitken has been appointed as a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to netball.

Dame Ruth was the most capped Silver Ferns coach with 112 tests.

The trophies the Silver Ferns won under Dame Ruth’s coaching include the 2003 Netball World Championship, 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games as well as silver at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and in the 2007 and 2011 World Championships.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the three newest knights reflected "the very best of New Zealand".

"Dr Patu Hohepa is credited with a renaissance in te ao Maori, Dr Collin Tukuitonga who has undoubtedly improved the lives of our Pacific communities through his work on health and welfare, particularly ensuring high vaccination rates, and Hugh Rennie who has worked across many major companies and government agencies since the 1960s, much of his work pro bono," Ms Ardern said.

Sir Patu has been knighted for services to Maori culture and education.

Sir Collin was knighted for his services to the Pacific community and public health, and Sir Hugh for services to governance, the law, business and the community.

The 2022 Honours list has eight people appointed as Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit, 40 as Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit and 70 as Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Four were made Companion of the Queen’s Service Order and 52 awarded the Queen’s Service Medal.

Nepalese community leader Uddhav Prasad Adhikary, of Auckland, was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the Nepalese community.

Sonya Rockhouse and Anna Osborne, both members of the Pike Families Reference Group that was formed following the Pike River Mine tragedy in 2010 by the families of the 29 minors who lost their lives, have been made Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Ms Rockhouse and Ms Osborne both lost family in the tragedy and have been fighting for better health and safety practices since.

This year 19 people have also made the list for contribution to sports and recreation.

As well as Benji Marshall and Ross Taylor, three Olympic rowers who won gold at the Tokyo Olympics, Emma Twigg, Kerri Williams and Grace Prendergast, have been appointed Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

So has Paralympian Holly Robinson after her gold medal in javelin which followed her silver medal in Rio 2016.

Others appointed as Officers in the New Zealand Order of Merit include world champion shearer John Kirkpatrick, Rod Pelosi for his commitment to football administration and Des Peters for 41 years of snow sports.