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New Zealand Honours System

The New Zealand Honours System

Table of contents
1 History
2 Structure of the system
3 External link


Royal honours were awarded in New Zealand from the very beginning of settlement. Governor George Grey received the first honour granted to a New Zealand resident, Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, in 1848.

For more than a hundred years the unadulterated British honours system was used for New Zealand. In 1975, after a review of the system, two uniquely New Zealand honours were integrated into it: the Queen's Service Order (QSO) and Queen's Service Medal (QSM). In 1987, the Order of New Zealand (ONZ) was instituted as the supreme New Zealand honour. Finally, in 1995- 6, a further review of the system resulted in the termination of awards of almost all British honours and the creation of a multi-tiered New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) to replace them. Knighthoods and Damehoods were initially retained in the upper tiers, but later abolished in 2000.

Structure of the system

The Order of New Zealand is the highest civilian honour in New Zealand; in heraldic terms, it is a first-level honour. Below it is the New Zealand Order of Merit, which has six internal ranks, and two divisions: civilian and military. (Its position in the heraldic hierarchy is unclear.) Below that lie the Queen's Service Order (a fourth-level honour) and the Queen's Service Medal (a sixth-level honour). Both of the latter are awarded either "for Community Service" or "for Public Service".

The ONZ, CNZM, ONZM, MNZM, QSO and QSM have never carried titles. Holders of a KNZM, DNZM or GNZM were and remain entitled to use 'Sir' or 'Dame' as appropriate, and the wife of a KNZM or GNZM who uses her husband's surname is entitled to the courtesy title 'Lady'. With the institution of the DCNZM and PCNZM, no New Zealand honour now carries a title; those who hold honours from previous systems remain entitled to use their titles.

Numerous other honours exist, including gallantry and bravery awards and various military campaign and commemorative medals.

There exist two titles not directly attached to an honour. Any person who is an Executive Councillor, that is, a Minister of the Crown, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, or a judge of the High Court or Court of Appeal, is entitled to be referred to as "the Honourable", abbreviated to "Hon.", while they are in office, and when they step down, they are usually granted the title for life as a courtesy. In addition, senior politicians and judges are often appointed to the Privy Council, which carries with it the title "the Right Honourable", abbreviated to "Rt. Hon." However, the current Prime Minister, Helen Clark, has backed away from this convention and not recommended any new Privy Councillors. At present there are only three Privy Councillors in Parliament, all appointed by previous Prime Ministers: Helen Clark (appointed by Jim Bolger upon becoming Leader of the Opposition in 1993), Speaker of the House Jonathan Hunt (appointed by Geoffrey Palmer in recognition of long service in 1989) and Winston Peters, leader of New Zealand First (appointed by Jim Bolger upon becoming Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer in 1996). A fourth, former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley (appointed upon becoming Prime Minister in 1997), stepped down from Parliament at the 2002 election.

External link