New Year honours list: Lisa Carrington and Sophie Pascoe among new dames and knights

Happy new year, Aotearoa – here are half a dozen new dames and knights to help mark the arrival of 2022.

They’re champion athletes, advocates in some of the premier privacy and health issues to blight our times, and the last surviving member of the 28th Māori Battalion.

And they join 177 other Kiwis recognised in the 2022 New Year honours, including a star of the film Whale Rider, a top cop who has led responses to some of the country’s deadliest events, and a Christchurch mosque shootings survivor and widower who’s taken his message of forgiveness and tolerance to the world.

Among the super six appointed Dame or Knight Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit are two of our most triumphant sportswomen – swimmer Sophie Pascoe and canoeist Lisa Carrington.

Our most successful Olympian, Dame Lisa has her own super six – five gold medals and a bronze from three Olympics, among almost two dozen medals snared across her canoe racing career.

The 32-year-old, who is Ngāti Porou and Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, also supports the next generation of canoeists, coaching young paddlers at her home club in Ōhope and working with Canoe Racing New Zealand to grow the sport.

Dame Lisa said the honour had been a tough secret to keep until now.

“It was a letter from the honours office, saying you are being considered for this honour and would you accept it,” she told the Herald.

“I just had a look and was like ‘Wow’. And then I had a chat with Bucky [fiance Michael Buck] about it, because it’s highly confidential.”

New Zealand’s most decorated Paralympian Pascoe, has also been recognised.

Even more familiar with the dais than her fellow honoured sportswoman, Dame Sophie’s treasure chest contains dozens of swimming medals, including 19 from four Paralympics – 11 of them gold.

The 28-year-old is also an advocate for equality and changing perceptions of people with disabilities.

“Obviously swimming has enabled me to make a positive impact in the pool but also the Paralympic movement,” Dame Sophie told the Herald.

“My advocacy for equality for people with disabilities… being the youngest [dame or knight] now is very overwhelming and a huge honour and I accept it with pride.”

The new dame said she was committed to next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, but makes no promises about the Paris Olympics.

She added: “I’m a very proud Kiwi, and I’m very proud of where I’ve come from and what I’ve done so far.

“The reward for me is making people proud and leaving a lasting legacy which I hope will make a positive impact in society.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said of the sporting heroes: “Lisa and Sophie are our greatest ever Olympian and Paralympian.

“No one who saw them will forget Lisa Carrington’s golden days on the water in Tokyo earlier this year. But she is far more than our greatest ever Olympian. Humble and kind she is a role model for girls and boys across the country and continues to give back through her coaching of young paddlers.

“Sophie Pascoe is our greatest Paralympian, winning 19 medals across four Paralympic Games. A groundbreaker and trendsetter she is a role model within and beyond the disability community and an advocate for equality.”

Former New Zealand Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff is the third new Dame Companion in today’s honours, recognising her contribution as our privacy regulator between 2003 and 2014, a period of significant technological and social change.

The Distinguished Alumna of the University of Auckland was also instrumental in launching Privacy Foundation New Zealand, of which she was the inaugural chair, and has also been on the Media Council and the board of Consumer New Zealand and the Equal Opportunities Trust.

Most recently Dame Marie has chaired the New Zealand Electoral Commission board since 2019, helping guide the organisation through the Covid-19 delayed 2020 election.

Meanwhile, three men are now Knight Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit – Chris Farrelly and Professor Jim Mann, for services to health, and Robert Gillies, the last remaining member of the 28th Māori Battalion, for services to Māori and war commemorations.

Sir Robert was a member of B Company during World War II and served in Africa, the Middle East and Europe – primarily in Italy.

He’s represented the men and service of the battalion nationally and internationally for decades and is already a Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.

As well as serving as a trustee of the battalion’s B Company History Trust, Sir Robert is involved in Te Arawa Returned Services Association, and he has long worked to support his iwi, Ngāti Whakaue.

A former Auckland City Missioner who led the development of the soon-to-be-opened “Home Ground” purpose-built facility to stand against homelessness, hunger and poor access to health care, Sir Chris Farrelly has been honoured for a long list of health and community-related initiatives.

Sir Chris was also founding chief executive of the Primary Health Organisation Manaia Health in Whāngārei, which achieved significant Te Tiriti-based partnership between Māori health providers, hapu and GPs, and as a founding member and chairman of Te Tai Tokerau Healthy Homes Project, he supported efforts to insulate more than 12,000 homes.

Earlier in his career Sir Chris spent more than a decade as an executive leadership team member at Northland District Health Board putting him in a range of health leadership roles, including HIV-AIDS support and actively campaigning against discrimination on the grounds of health status, leading up to the Human Rights Act of 1993.

Professor Jim Mann has been recognised for his pioneering research relating to non-communicable disease prevention, management at the University of Otago’s Departments of Medicine and Human Nutrition since 1988, and efforts internationally through World Health Organisation appointments, especially around nutrition.

As inaugural director of the Edgar National Centre for Diabetes and Obesity Research, he helped raise more than $120 million in research funding.

Sir Jim’s epidemiological and nutrition-related research, published in almost 400 scientific publications and 90 book chapters, has informed world-leading interventions in the fields of coronary heart disease and diabetes, and committees he’s led have developed guidelines for the management of both, as well as cardiovascular disease risk assessment.

Fourteen New Zealanders have been made Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit, among them stage and screen actor, writer and director Rāwiri Paratene, best known for his role as Koro in Whale Rider, and high-profile jazz trombonist Rodger Fox.

Superintendent Andy McGregor, Bay of Plenty police district commander, and Detective Superintendent Peter Read, who took leading roles in the aftermath of several of New Zealand’s worst tragedies last decade – including Pike River, the Christchurch earthquakes and the terror attack on two mosques – join 38 others as new Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Others to get the nod include longtime journalist and columnist Rosemary McLeod and Pradu Dayaram, who has been an orthopaedic surgeon on the South Island’s West Coast for 35 years, including 10 years solo, which meant being on call 24 hours a day.

Farid Ahmed, who survived the Christchurch mosques’ terror attack, but lost his wife Husna in the atrocity, has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his message and ongoing advocacy of forgiveness and tolerance

Ahmed is among 64 recipients of the honour, including Manukau councillor Alf Filipaina.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick is a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order.

Of the 183 New Year Honours recipients, 80 were recognised for contributions in the areas of community, voluntary and local services. Twenty-five came from the field of health and 21, education.

Ardern said of the latest honours recipients: “I never fail to be amazed by the outstanding things New Zealanders achieve, especially during the tough times and I want to thank each and every person on this year’s list for the work they do to support their fellow New Zealanders in a wide variety of ways.

“Covid means many things are uncertain in the world right now but one hugely important constant is the never-ending efforts New Zealanders go to on behalf of their fellow citizens. I thank them all and would like to make sure they know this country is a better place because of them.”

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