Tuesday, April 7, 2009


"Knight is right - old-style honours suit new candidates", says a frontpage headline on today's Herald. Quite why the Herald has such a hard-on over the whole titles issue is beyond me, unless the editorial board are scoping for a title themselves.
More than half the 85 honours recipients offered the option of becoming knights or dames say they want the titles.
Is that news? I don't just mean, 'Should we be surprised that most people want something rather than nothing?'. I more mean 'Should we be particularly interested that the huge milestone of half the potential recipients saying yes has been passed?'. But I am also interested in what the people have to say about accepting the honour.
  • Maori leader 'Sir' Harawira Gardiner: "I think it's not mine to turn down. A lot of people have worked hard alongside me and this is a recognition of that." [Although I don't believe they get to use the title.]
  • Rugby player and man-about-town Colin Meads has not accepted "yet", which doesn't sound like news until one realises that every utterance from the man is considered gospel by the Herald. I suggest a 24-hour Meadswatch, with a reporter live on the scene day and night until he makes up his mind.
  • Business leader Eion Edgar has said yes - "a decision that had been made easier by a push from friends, family and the wider community": "The day after it was announced I was a recipient, I must have got more than 80 texts, emails and calls saying 'Please accept'." But how many did he receive saying to turn it down? Typically poor investigative journalism from the Herald.
  • Winemaker George Fistonich: "We thought it was good for the wine industry and also for our family to accept to, so I have."
So no one actually just wants to be called 'Sir' then. And yes, I know that if people came out and said that I would hassle them as well. Looks like being a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit is a truly tough no-win situation!

Possibly the most interesting part of the story is how the Herald seems to think that the fact people are accepting the titles means that the reversion to titles was a good policy. In the same way, people accepting their tax cuts is a good indicator that they are justified. I thereby propose bringing back all feudal titles to New Zealand. We'll then see if it turns out that someone becoming Grand Archduke - to be addressed by the hoi polloi as 'Your Grace' - helps the wine industry.


  1. This is a question born of pure ignorance, I'm not having a go at anyone, but why do we award our Governor Generals with Knighthoods? I know the same could be said of many candidates, but I'm particularly confused by this one.

    I know they represent the crown in NZ, but is that the main reason? Or are they performing some other kind of exemplary services that I'm simply unaware of? Once again, only asking because I simply don't know.

  2. Well you know my question: why do we reward anyone with knighthoods?

    I still haven't heard a convincing justification (rather than explanation) from anyone. So I'm afraid that I can't help you with that question.

  3. I like the 'It helps sell wine' explanation.

    It ties in quite well with the little gold silver and bronze medal stickers you see on wine bottles.