Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has joined world famous film maker ( Lord of the Rings) Peter Jackson in topping the New Year honours, it was recently announced.
Miss Clark has received New Zealand’s highest accolade, becoming a member of the Order of New Zealand, while Sir Peter is among five to become knights or dames. But, however, she will not become a Dame; under her administrations titles were abolished, and reinstated this year under the new National Government.
In all, 193 people have received honours, covering fields as diverse as music, speedway, education and horticultural science.
Miss Clark, prime minister for three terms, joins 16 others in membership of the Order of New Zealand, which is limited to 20 living Kiwis.
She is one of three former prime ministers on the list, and now heads the United Nations Development Programme in New York.
Miss Clark said she felt privileged to join the “incredible New Zealanders” in the order, and “certainly would not” have accepted a damehood. Her Labour government axed the titles in 2000.
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.”