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Queen's Birthday Honours 2017: Sir John Key heads list of two dames and three knights

Top honours include reality TV producer Dame Julie Christie, mountaineer Sir Graeme Dingle and former All Black Sir Michael Jones. 

Nevil Gibson
Mon, 05 Jun 2017

Former prime minister and NBR Rich Lister John Key leads a list of two knights and two dames in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Sir John was the country’s 38th prime minister and becomes a Knight Grand Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (NZOM).

He resigned last December in a surprise move and is the only government leader in recent times to step down without either losing an election or a caucus vote.

Among other initiatives during his time in government, Sir John reinstated the royal honours system after it was scrapped by Helen Clark's government.

The new Dame Companions are reality television producer and businesswoman Julie Christie and emeritus professor Peggy Koopman-Boyden, who has spent a lifetime researching issues relating to the elderly.

Outdoor Pursuits Centre (now Hillary Outdoors) founder Graeme Dingle becomes a knight companion, as do former All Black Michael Jones and Maori language expert Professor Timoti Karetu.

Dame Julie was the founder and chief executive of the Touchdown production company from 1991 until 2013 when she sold the business to an overseas company. It was best known for reality shows such as Celebrity Treasure Island. She has been heavily involved with the Rugby Union and the Rugby World Cup in 2011 and is a member of its commercial committee. She is a director of MediaWorks and has been on the board of NZ Trade & Enterprise. Previous honour: Officer of the NZ Order of Merit (2007).

Dame Peggy has given more than 45 years’ of service to researching the elderly, including major projects for the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology during the 1990s and 2000s and more recently for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. She was appointed an emeritus professor at the University of Waikato last year. Previous honour: Companion of the NZ Order of Merit in 1997.

Sir Graeme, a mountaineer and outdoors adventurer, has been active in youth leadership work since 1972 after achieving some 200 world firsts in mountains and extreme places such as the Arctic. In 1995, he launched Project K (now the Graeme Dingle Foundation) and has written 11 books about his experiences. Previous honours: Member of the NZ Order of Merit (1988) and Officer (2001). 

Sir Michael played for the All Blacks for 11 years, including in two World Cups, and since then has been active in the economic and social development for Pasifika people in New Zealand and the Pacific region. He founded and chairs the Village Community and Youth Trust in West Auckland; established the Pacific Peoples Advancement Trust, which runs the Pacific Advance Senior School; and is community partnerships manager at AUT. Previous honour: Member of the NZ Order of Merit (1997).

Sir Timoti was the inaugural Māori Language Commissioner from 1987-99. He was executive director of Te Kohanga Reo National Trust until 2003 and is now its chairman. He has been the executive director of Te Panekiretanga o te Reo, the Institute of Excellence in Māori Language, since its inception in 2003. Previous honour: Companion, Queen’s Service Order (1993). 

Nevil Gibson
Mon, 05 Jun 2017
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Queen's Birthday Honours 2017: Sir John Key heads list of two dames and three knights