Former Prime Minister Helen Clark, film-maker Peter Jackson, businessman Douglas Myers and US philanthropist Julian Robertson feature in the 2010 New Year honours, which is heavy in its recognition of business people.
It is an irony that Ms Clark, the administrator of the UN Development Programme and who in 2000 abolished titular honours list, joins a raft of new dames and knights. These titles were restored by the National government.
Ms Clark joins the elite Order of New Zealand, which is restricted to 20 living New Zealanders and at the moment has only 17 members.
Sir Douglas Myers, 71, has long been thought to have been a knight, judging by the many descriptions over the years in the media.
He becomes a knight companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit along with Sir Peter Jackson, health professor Sir Mason Durie, senior judge Sir Bruce Robertson and educationalist Dame Lesley Max.
American citizen Julian Robertson becomes an honorary knight and cannot call himself “Sir.”
In an embargoed interview, Ms Clark said she felt privileged to join the “incredible New Zealanders” in the order, and “certainly would not” have accepted a damehood. She admitted to not being wholly surprised at the honour, although it perhaps came sooner than expected.
“I've spent a lot of years at the top, maybe sometime an approach would have been made ... It's not unusual, it's a question of timing.”
Sir Peter’s honour comes as film career recovers from a hiatus since he collected a raft of Oscars for The Lord of the Rings trilogy in 2004.
His latest film, The Lovely Bones, started its New Zealand season on Boxing Day while earlier this year his production of science fiction thriller District 9 was a critical and box office hit.
His company Weta is responsible for the special effects in the blockbuster Avatar and he is deeply involved in several new films, including a Tintin series, a remake of The Dam Busters and a new version of Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
Sir Peter did not give an interview but issued a statement saying the knighthood was an "incredible moment" that was greater than receiving an Oscar.
Sir Douglas was not so reticent in his reaction.
“You're supposed to say you feel humbled, but I don't feel very humble. I just feel very pleased and happy," he said. “I said to someone the other day you don't get much pleasure when you get older, quite the reverse most of the time.”
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