Richie joins highest order

Richie McCaw is the only appointment to the Order of New Zealand in the New Year Honours. Photo: Hagen Hopkins
Richie McCaw is the only appointment to the Order of New Zealand in the New Year Honours. Photo: Hagen Hopkins

He will not be arising Sir Richie today. Instead, the double-World Cup-winning former All Black captain has been made a member of the country's most honoured group.

Richard Hugh McCaw is the only appointment to the Order of New Zealand in the New Year Honours. The award falls on McCaw's 35th birthday.

McCaw is the youngest New Zealander to be appointed to the order and joins an elite list that includes former prime ministers Jim Bolger, Mike Moore and Helen Clark, sportsmen Sir Murray Halberg and Sir Bob Charles, opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and architect Sir Miles Warren.

• Otago and Southland: A celebration of service

• Editorial: Worthy recipients of honours  

 Full list 

The Order of New Zealand is the country's highest honour and ordinary membership is limited to 20 living persons at any time.

High achievers from a number of other industries are also being honoured today.

New Zealand has two new Dames Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit - film director Dame Jane Campion and public servant Dame Paula Rebstock - and two Knights Companion of the said order - Supreme Court Judge Sir Terence Arnold and champion competitive shearer Sir David Fagan.

McCaw has been honoured for services to New Zealand. He is said to have previously turned down a knighthood, but after captaining the All Blacks to a consecutive World Cup victory this year, McCaw agreed to being included on the 2016 list.

In a video message posted to his Facebook page, McCaw said it was an incredible honour to "join the list of some truly great New Zealanders".

"I just see myself as an ordinary boy from Kurow who has been able to live a dream. The Order of New Zealand honour does not come with a title. I've never been comfortable with titles, it's not who I am.

"I am however extremely privileged to join the distinguished company of men and women who have been awarded the Order of New Zealand. I hope I can live up to their incredibly high standard of service to their country."

Other All Blacks honoured 

Eight other All Black players and management have also been honoured. Dan Carter and mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka have been made officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to rugby.

Ma'a Nonu, Keven Mealamu, Conrad Smith and Tony Woodcock, All Black forwards coach Mike Cron and former team doctor John Mayhew were made members of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

McCaw declined all interviews about his honour.

‘‘As he always says, it's not about him, it's about the team,'' New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said.

"Richie is very humbled, as you'd expect, and I think he took a long time to consider ... But I think he recognises that this is something that reflects an area that he's been an important part of. I think he's very proud and delighted.''

The honour was monumental for ‘‘someone so young and tender of age'', he said.

‘‘What he wants to do now is return back to being a normal New Zealander, which is not going to be easy.''

The honour, as opposed to a knighthood, was appropriate, Tew said.

"He fits in the top 20 bill, but he can continue to be Richard to his mother, and Richie to us.''

NZ Rugby chairman Brent Impey said the now retired, most-capped test rugby player of all time ‘‘had rightly earned himself a place as one of New Zealand's most respected people''.

A total of 178 Kiwis are on today's honours list, representing all sectors of society - business, the arts, charity, entertainment, law enforcement, the judiciary, sport, culture, tourism, education, community, journalism, agriculture and farming. Of those, 69 are women and 109 are men.


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