Ex-Gore pupil receives Danish honour

Danish ambassador for Australia and New Zealand Pernille Kardel (left) congratulates former Gore...
Danish ambassador for Australia and New Zealand Pernille Kardel (left) congratulates former Gore High School pupil Karen Pullar on her appointment as a Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog in recognition of her service in the interests of Denmark. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A former Gore High School pupil has joined a small group of New Zealanders who have been honoured with a Danish knighthood.

In this year’s Danish New Year’s Honours, Queen Margrethe II appointed Karen Pullar a Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog in recognition of her service in the interests of Denmark.

Last week in Wellington, the Danish ambassador for Australia and New Zealand, Pernille Kardel, who is based in Canberra, presented the award on behalf of the Queen who abdicated the throne on January 1.

Her son, Prince Frederik, is now King.

Miss Pullar grew up on her parents’ Margaret and the late Gordon Pullar’s farm in Pukerau.

Since 2015, she has served in the voluntary role as the honorary consul-general for Denmark, in Wellington.

The role involved assisting Danish people in New Zealand, representing the country’s interests, and maintaining close ties to the Danish community.

Miss Pullar said receiving the award was "amazing".

"It’s such an honour and it was quite a surprise."

It was even more special as it had been the Queen’s final honours list.

It was "nice" the Danish government recognised the work she did in the unpaid position, she said.

The Danish honours system was not as formal as the British one.

She would not use the title dame.

Consuls from throughout the world had attended a meeting in June where she met then Prince Frederik and his wife, Princess Mary.

"I got to shake their hands so that was pretty amazing."

Her connection with Denmark came about when she worked in the United Kingdom for three years in her 20s.

While working as an audiologist in Timaru before that, she had been fitting hearing aids made by Danish company Oticon.

She visited the company in Denmark and when she came back to New Zealand she started working for it.

In 1995 she completed a management internship with Oticon in Denmark, Paris and the United States.

In 1996 she was appointed Oticon New Zealand’s general manager. She worked for the company for 26 years and after she left was approached about applying for the honorary consul role.

"The Danish government, the New Zealand government and the Danish crown all had to vet and approve the appointment.

"Most of the honorary consuls are Danes so it’s quite rare for someone who’s not Danish to be appointed."

During the Covid epidemic she had been especially busy helping Danish people either return to New Zealand or Denmark.

"This time was particularly challenging with airlines and the border closing in quick succession, along with the daily changes of transit, visa and vaccination rules.

"I was constantly on the phone."

She still worked as an audiologist but was always on call in her consul role.

While she could not speak much Danish, most Danes learned English from a young age.

If someone emailed her in Danish she used an online site to translate it into English and her reply into Danish.

The consul-generals in Auckland and Christchurch were Danish and could help if a Danish speaker was needed.

There were many similarities between the two countries including population size, values and economy, she said.

Many of the early Danish immigrants to New Zealand were dairy farmers.

"The history of the dairy industry in New Zealand has got a lot to thank the Danes for."

She was also very fond of Danish cheese.

Ms Kardel said it was an honour to present the knighthood to Miss Pullar.

"I thank her wholeheartedly for her work for Denmark in Wellington including her assistance to our citizens.

"Karen is a great honorary consul-general for Denmark."