15 Aug 2009

Labour disappointed at rejection of honours policy

10:08 pm on 15 August 2009

The Labour Party says it regrets the overwelming rejection of its policy on national honours, shown by the numbers who have formally accepted traditional titles.

The 66 eligible New Zealanders who chose to re-designate their Labour era honours received traditional titles of Sir or Dame at a ceremony in Wellington on Friday.

Labour Party internal affairs spokesperson Chris Hipkins says it is disappointing so many people turned their back on a New Zealand-based system without a British connection. It shows many look up at people with titles rather than focussing on what they do, he says.

Mr Hipkins says the Labour Party has not yet formed a new policy on the honours system.

Included in the ceremony at Old St Paul's Cathedral was one of New Zealand's greatest sportspeople, Olympic champion Sir Peter Snell.

Others at the ceremony to receive titles were rugby great Sir Colin Meads, opera singer Dame Malvina Major, publisher Dame Christine Cole Catley and former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley.

Thirteen people turned down the traditional titles, including author Witi Ihimaera, former speaker of Parliament Margaret Wilson, novelist Patricia Grace, academic Ranginui Walker and actor Sam Neill.