Filmmaker Peter Jackson, the Oscar-winning director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, has been knighted in the New Zealand New Year Honours list.
Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark topped the country’s honours list, being appointed a member of the Order of New Zealand (ONZ).
Five people have been made Knights and one a Dame – the first new titular honours to be awarded since their abolition under Miss Clark’s Labour government in 2000.
Current Prime Minister John Key announced the reinstatement of the titles in March, saying it was about celebrating the success of outstanding New Zealanders.
Clark was the first woman prime minister to reach the office through an election, holding the post for three terms from 1999 to 2008.
After Labour’s election loss last year she bowed out of New Zealand politics, taking a new role heading the United Nations Development Programme.
Firefighters awarded medals
Peter Jackson, Professor Mason Durie, Douglas Myers and Justice Bruce Robertson have been made Knights Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (KNZM), and American billionaire Julian Robertson, was made an honorary KNZM.
Children’s rights advocate Lesley Max was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DNZM).
Five firefighters were recognised with the Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for their roles during or after an explosion and fire at a coolstore in the Waikato province which claimed the life of one of their colleagues and seriously injured seven others.
Since Sir Peter was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in 2002, the final instalment of his Lord of the Rings trilogy won 11 Academy Awards, he remade King Kong, produced District 9 and has released his latest film The Lovely Bones.
In 2003 he opened Park Road Post Production in Wellington, establishing New Zealand as a place where major films projects can be undertaken.
Professor Durie, also previously a CNZM, has been recognised for his service to Maori health while Myers, who now lives in London, is the former chief executive and chairman of Lion Nathan and co-founder of the Business Roundtable.
Ex-All Black honoured
Justice Robertson was appointed to the High Court in 1987 and has also served on the Court of Appeal and as Acting Chief Justice.
Julian Robertson has invested in New Zealand for more than 15 years, developing world-class golf courses at Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers and owning the Te Awa and Dry River wineries.
Dame Lesley was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1994 and has since continued her work supporting children, helping to create organisations, mentoring programs and a national child abuse prevention program.
Former All Black Ian Jones was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rugby. He is now a director of North Harbour Rugby, Sport North Harbour and patron of the North Otago Rugby Supporters Club.
In all there were 193 new appointments and awards.
Clark joins Jim Bolger and Mike Moore as former prime ministers among the 17 ordinary members of the ONZ.
The ordinary membership is restricted to 20 living people at any time.