Former New Zealand Prime Minister republican Helen Clark actually tried to stop a former Labour minister from being one of the many who accepted titles under the reformed New Zealand honours system. But Dame Margaret Shields proudly came to the investiture in Old St Paul’s in Wellington along with seventy two others.
Dame Margaret told Audrey Young of the New Zealand Herald (14/8) that the reason she accepted the title of "dame" was "overwhelming support" from the public and people who had supported her for years.
"They were annoyed when I got the award and no title."
Sir Peter Snell explains in the accompanying video that his colleagues in the United States were delighted, and that no one know what the previous award meant. The new knights included Sir Ralph Norris, chief executive officer of Australia’s Commonwealth Bank.
The New Zealand sporting greats were led Sir Peter Snell who now lives in Dallas, Sir Russell Coutts from Valencia and the Rugby giant Sir Colin Meads came from Te Kuiti.
The delighted recipients and their families had the Prime Minister Mr. John Key to thank for their new status. He was responsible for the mass "redesignation" of 72 people's honours – not an investiture, the protocol experts insisted – by reinstating titular honours.
One by one, the men knelt to be dubbed on each shoulder with a sword – by the Governor-General, Sir Anand Satyanand. He shook hands with the Dames.
These investitures will return as a regular feature of New Zealand life, as her most distinguished sons and daughters are recognized in the traditional way, a way which is understood immediately around the world.
Australians will have to wait for a prime minister of courage equivalent to that of John Key to do the sensible thing and follow the New Zealand decision. He or she will have to be able to withstand the scorn of the republican politicans, and of most in the the mainline media. Few have the srength to do that.
That will be a litmus test of the overall quality of that prime minister.