Queen’s Birthday Honours

Our previous Prime Minister, Mr John Key, became Sir John Key today. This is called a knighthood. His wife is now Lady Bronagh. It was not a surprise. It’s traditional for ex-Prime Ministers to become Sir if a man, or Dame if a woman.

Under the previous Labour government, Prime Minister Helen Clark, abolished knighthoods and other honours which were part of a British system. Instead, we had our own system of honours. So, although she was Prime Minister for nine years, she did not become Dame Helen. Perhaps she was offered the title. If so, she certainly refused it. When John Key became Prime Minister, he brought back those British honours.

Many other people who have performed some kind of special service in our society will receive a Queen’s Birthday Honours. There are different honours, like New Zealand Order of Merit, and Queen’s Service Order. People who receive an award, attend a special ceremony at Government House where they are given the award by the Governor-General who represents the Queen in our country.

The list today is long and includes people who gave service to sport, music, literature, art, health, or special service to Pacific Islanders or to Maori, or to community work. It is one way to show that their work, which is usually voluntary, is appreciated by our society

To hear more about the Honours system in New Zealand, type ‘Honours’ in the search box.


• abolished – got rid of, stopped that system
• service – doing voluntary work to help other people

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