Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year’s Honours

One of the traditions of New Year’s Eve is the release of the Honours List in which the government of the day picks certain people for special honour. Some of the those people will become knights or dames, after the National Party-led Government restored the titles the previous Labour-led Government removed.

This year’s list had some controversy when some blogger apparently talked about the list before its official release (yawn!) and officialdom and mainstream newsmedia mavens wrung their hands in mock horror (big yawn). It was a slow news time of the year, after all.

But this year’s list contained one honour that really surprised me: Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has been named to the country’s highest honour, the Order of New Zealand, which is limited to only 20 living New Zealanders. I wouldn’t have expected that, but it was a very gracious thing to do and I would bet that Prime Minister John Key is behind it.

Clark was the first elected female prime minister, the first Labour prime minister to win three terms and she was prime minster for all but one year of this decade, with a stable, relatively calm premiership. She was also the longest-serving prime minister since Sir Keith Holyoake. That’s quite a list of achievements, and deserving of recognition.

Even the conservative New Zealand Herald, no friend of the Labour Party or Helen Clark, was full of praise, admittedly often wrapped in neo-conservative dogma. I actually thought it was a shockingly gracious editorial.

The rest of the list honours people who deserve it as well as some who probably don’t. That’s typical. I have no idea if there are any GLBT honourees, because I don’t know most of the names on the list, which is also typical.

Honouring Helen Clark is one definitely good thing about this year’s list.

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