3 Nov 2015

No Siree: Key won't drop titular honours

3:54 pm on 3 November 2015

Prime Minister John Key is committed to keeping titular honours, despite Australia dropping knights and dames from its honours system.

John Key during caucus run talking about Richie McCaw and the royal family.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott reintroduced knighthood and damehoods last year after they were dropped in 1986, but new Australian leader Malcolm Turnbull has announced he will reverse his predecessor's decision.

New Zealand's former Prime Minister, Helen Clark, dropped titular honours when Labour was in power but when National moved back into government, Mr Key reintroduced them.

He said today he remained committed to having knights and dames as part of the system.

"Look we brought them in 2008 and actually, in our experience, it's been a really good move, the honours system has never been more popular than when we brought them back.

"It has sparked people's interest, people I think have felt it's a good way of recognising someone they hold at the highest level."

Annette King, who is the acting Labour leader while Andrew Little is in the United Kingdom, said although her party had not decided on a formal policy about whether to keep the honours, she thought stability was a good idea.

"I do personally believe that chopping and changing the honours system does really annoy the public and whatever we've got we probably should say 'this is it' and our top honour is the one that people should really concentrate on and that is the Order of New Zealand," Ms King said.

Mr Key would not be drawn on whether All Blacks captain Richie McCaw would be nominated for a knighthood following the team's second successive Rugby World Cup title win.