5 Feb 2013

Dame sceptical of moving honours date

10:02 pm on 5 February 2013

A proposal to announce the New Year honours on Waitangi Day has been met with scepticism by a newly-honoured dame.

Labour Party leader David Shearer says the honours should be announced on Waitangi Day on 6 February to mark the holiday as a national celebration.

New Zealand upholds the Commonwealth tradition of announcing its honours list on New Year's Day, keeping it with the United Kingdom, but out-of-step with Australia which releases its honours on Australia Day.

Mr Shearer believes New Zealand should also announce its honours on its national day.

Dame Wendy Pye received an honour this year for services to business and education and says moving the New Years honours to another date could tarnish the award's international brand.

Dame Wendy says Waitangi Day is an occasion which has significance only for New Zealanders.

The government is also critical saying Mr Shearer's proposal would tarnish the awards.

Prime Minister John Key and Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia have dismissed the idea.

Mr Key says the controversy over Waitangi Day could ruin the purpose of the honours list in recognising exceptional New Zealanders.

Mrs Turia says Labour's priority should be keeping its commitments to Maori, not changing the honours system.