Among the recipients of 2009 New Year's honours are former Prime Minister Helen Clark, film-maker Peter Jackson, and businessman Douglas Myers.
There are five new Knights and one Dame on the New Year Honours list, following the reinstatement of the Queen's title awards, which the former Labour government discontinued in 2000.
A total of 193 people are named.
Miss Clark has received New Zealand's highest honour, the Order of New Zealand.
Film-maker Peter Jackson is made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and Dame Lesley Max is honoured for her services to children.
Other new knights are Douglas Myers, for services to business and the community, Judge Bruce Robertson for services as a High Court and Appeal Court judge and Professor Mason Durie for his leadership in Maori health.
American businessman and philanthropist Julian Robertson becomes an honorary Knight Companion.
Miss Clark was Prime Minister for three consecutive terms and now heads the United Nations Development Programme.
She says she had a good run at the top, but when the Labour Party lost the last election, she knew she had to find new challenges and move on.
Honours for firefighters, scientists
Heroes and the pioneers of science have also been recognised in the New Year list.
They include the firefighters from the fatal Icepak coolstore explosion at Tamahere in 2008, as well as scientists specialising in fertility and in the Antarctic.
Queens Service medals were awarded to firefighters Martin Berryman, Roy Breeze, Peter Hallet, Owen Kinsella and Gary Talbot.
Fertility specialists Doctors Richard Fisher and Freddie Graham, who established the first in vitro fertilisation (IVF) programme at National Women's Hospital in 1983, were made Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to medicine.
Four people were awarded the New Zealand Antarctic Medal: Professor Peter Barret, historian Dr David Harrowfield, Tim Young for services to Antarctic climate science and Alex Pyne for his work on the Andrill ice core project.
Former Auditor-General Kevin Brady has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for public service.
Actor George Henare has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the theatre.
Former Television New Zealand news reader Judy Bailey has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to broadcasting and the community.
Political journalist Ian Templeton has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to journalism.
Mr Templeton is a life member of the Parliamentary press gallery, and the Guardian newspaper's New Zealand correspondent for more than 30 years. He co-founded the weekly political newsletter Trans Tasman in 1968 and is still the editor.