Four editorials on Titular Honours

March 10th, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

All four major dailies (sorry Waikato Times does not qualify :-)) have editorials today on restorying titles to our top , and opinion is mixed.

The says they still have a place:

They may sound quaintly English nowadays, and no sizeable Commonwealth country outside of Britain uses them any more, but knighthoods still have a place in New Zealand. The previous Government did away with them without a clear mandate to do so and its decision always rankled with a large section of the community. In their eight years’ absence, equivalent non-titled honours have not caught the public imagination. The loss was noticed every Queen’s Birthday and New Year.

National’s reinstatement of the titles appears to be broadly popular, so much so that it is a wonder the party did not declare its intentions loudly before the election.

The Dom Post declares medieval titles make no sense:

The change is intended to confer greater status on honours recipients. Holders of the titles introduced by the Clark government do not enjoy the same recognition as those who were made knights and dames under the old system.

But to address one anomaly, Mr Key has created another. He has reinstated a quaint, antiquated system that has no relevance in 21st-century New Zealand. …

Each year New Zealand grows more confident and more secure in its unique identity. Inevitably it will become a republic. It makes no sense to revive an antiquated system that has its roots on the other side of the world.

agrees with the Dom Post, calling them Outdated Titles.

The Government’s decision to unilaterally reintroduce the titles of knights and dames is a retrograde step, one totally out of kilter with New Zealanders’ sense of egalitarianism.

Although the revamped honours will still be a New Zealand, rather than a British system, it will still have connotations of colonial times, and that has no place in our society as New Zealand moves forward in the 21st century as a confident and independent nation.

The ODT sits on the fence somewhat but mildly supportive:

While many will welcome reversion to an honours system recognising society’s special contributors with the familiar titles of “Sir” and “Dame”, it is less obvious the move has been thoroughly thought-out, let alone discussed in any meaningful fashion with either the country or the Parliament.

It has become clear since the system was changed and the titles abolished in 2000 by Helen Clark and the Labour-led government that the replacements have failed to excite the imagination and thus, arguably, have contributed to a de facto demotion in their social and cultural significance.

If people are going to be recognised for their good and public-spirited works, then it should be with a title or honour that has resonance. …

But whether celebrating success in 21st-century New Zealand requires a wholesale reversion to “Knight and Dame Companions”, at the pleasure of the Queen, others may find debatable.

Mr Key and his Government obviously think so and, as is their prerogative, have made a decisive intervention.

Whether it stands the test of time only time itself will tell.

So that is 2-2 in the editorials!

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41 Responses to “Four editorials on Titular Honours”

  1. Scott (1,797 comments) says:

    I totally agree with the New Zealand Herald and humbug to the Dominion Post. Knighthoods to me are part of the rich tapestry of our culture. In the same way that Anzac Day has become meaningful to even young New Zealanders, so knighthoods celebrate the rich culture and inheritance that we have been given. I think they are incredibly meaningful and provide a fitting reward and recognition to many fine New Zealanders that have laboured for years to benefit the community.

    As to those who worry about our “colonial past” — I am tired of New Zealanders who are ashamed of who we are and where we have come from. We have a wonderful country and have been given a rich and wonderful culture. I think we should be more proud of our past. I have little time for radicals who want to dismiss the past and dismiss the achievements of our ancestors.

    Yet another excellent move from our government and it is great to see that the vast majority of New Zealanders support this move.

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  2. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    The press and the dom post claim that National is out of step with how New Zealanders feel about themselves when it rather more appears that National is out of step with how the press and the dom post think New Zealanders should feel about themselves according to the press and the dompost.

    I’d sugest this complete failure to grasp the obvious may not be entirely unconected to their falling readership number.

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  3. greenfly (1,059 comments) says:

    It’s a Great Leap Backwards, M’Lud. Medieval Actoid Flat-earthers will be throwing their pince-nez into the air with glee!

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  4. big bruv (13,886 comments) says:

    “It’s a Great Leap Backwards, M’Lud. Medieval Actoid Flat-earthers will be throwing their pince-nez into the air with glee!”

    Great!

    It’s official then, if Green party nut bars are against it then it must be a great idea.

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  5. larryq (66 comments) says:

    Everyone assumes that the Labour Government setup the new system, but I thought the Bolger/Shipley Government made the change. It could have been that Bolger setup the committee (consisting of both Labour & National), who made recommendations that were picked up by Labour. Can someone please put me straight.

    I think that knighthoods have had their day, but I do agree that NZers don’t really understand the new Honours and they need to be made more user friendly, without having to revert back to the archaic. Bring back MBEs (Members of the Brittish Empire).

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  6. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Of course you see it that greenfly, everything about stone age Maori tradition and culture is to be treated as scared and everything from the culture of 90% of the population is to be dismantled as eeeeeevil.

    Good thing for culture you are meaningless.

    If you’re against it then theres a 99% chance sane people are for it.

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  7. peterwn (3,271 comments) says:

    The big beauty of titular honours is that they are cheap – just the cost of the gong and a bit of Government House catering. But boy oh boy they are a great motivator to put in extra effort or to open the pocket to good causes. For this crass reason alone, they are pragmatically justified.

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  8. Ryan Sproull (7,129 comments) says:

    It’s just plain cooler to put a word before a name than to put some letters after it.

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  9. Gary2 (17 comments) says:

    I’m supportive of the change – just because we may become a republic doesn’t mean you have to throw out everything associated with the past.

    Can we look forward to The Dominion Post becoming The Republic Post? Or will Christchurch’s The Press, become The Internet?

    It’s amusing to see critics of using “old” titles clinging to the vestiges of the past!

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  10. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “It’s just plain cooler to put a word before a name than to put some letters after it.”

    No no no-

    “ISN’T IT just plain cooler to put a word before a name than to put some letters after it?”

    Funny Mr Sproull, how you appear to be able to come up with a clear statement of opinion on trifles, even if it is a trifling opinion.

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  11. Paul Williams (878 comments) says:

    I think this is a retrograde step. I know it’s only titles, but it sets the republican movement back when it should be going forward. I’d’ve been more sympathetic to retaining the Privy Council than I am this move – the Privy Council at least presents a potential value to NZ. It’s curious to me that in Australia, where they missed the opportunity to become a republic, they left titular honours long ago. The letters AO and AM have real meaning even though they don’t carry with them some ancient prefix.

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  12. holdenrepublic (34 comments) says:

    larryq – it was the Bolger government in 1996. They abolished the British honours system in New Zealand, OBEs, MBEs, etc. The restoration of Knighthoods and Damehoods is legally to the New Zealand Honours system they created – New Zealanders could still technically get a Knighthood from the Queen prior this decision (Hell, they gave one to Teddy Kennedy).

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  13. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Not sure HTMQ was invloved in THAT decision lewis.

    Was in contribuitions to Irish terrorism or water sports that hes suposed to be getting it for anyway?

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  14. baxter (893 comments) says:

    SCOTT…reflects my opinion. I can only add that I would support the removal of the routine adornment of the title on various politicians and Judges, and to his credit John KEY seems to agree. …New Zealand has advanced too far along the road of uniformity and mediocrity in many walks of life thanks to over regulation and welfare/socialism. The return of identified role model icons is to be welcomed…With respect to Australia I also support the nomination of a New Zealander of the year as the Aussies do, on a day other than Waitangi day though.

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  15. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    I think these titular honours are different from titles such as “Doctor” or “Professor”, which reflect objectively measured academic achievement. They are subjective and prone to the political whims of the government of the day. They lost all credibility for me when Robert Muldoon effectively awarded himself a knighthood.

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  16. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Still not caring what the green party manifesto says thanks.

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  17. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    It doesn’t say anything about titles Murray – probably because no-one in the Greens thought this was an important issue. And it isn’t, but I guess it’s a nice little distraction for a Government that wants people to focus on things other than the dreadful state of the economy and the fact that Government doesn’t really seem to have any idea how to respond to it.

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  18. peterwn (3,271 comments) says:

    Professor is confusing since AFAIK any tenured university academic in USA is a professor, unlike in UK and NZ where it is limited to top academics.

    In reality there would be a check / balance on any knighthood for a serving PM, perhaps a CV review by Buckingham Palace staff. Regardless of what one may think of the guy, he was well within the usual knighthood criteria. It possibly seemed slightly ‘infra dig’ considering as Sir Keith Holyoake declined to accept a knighthood until apparently Her Majesty personally raised the matter with him.

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  19. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    The government would be trying to distract people from the state that Labour got our economy into because…?

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  20. greenfly (1,059 comments) says:

    Question for Murray – what’s this sound – tug tug tug ??
    Answer: forelocks, Murray, forelocks!

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  21. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    peterwn said: Regardless of what one may think of [Muldoon], he was well within the usual knighthood criteria.

    What, a drunken old lecher who systematically destroyed New Zealand’s economy?

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  22. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    Arise Sir DPF For services to the blogsphere

    Come on You know you would love it Dont be bashful Think of the pulling power with the ladies. In the USA they go potty over titles.

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  23. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    Bolgers an Irish Republican who hates the Poms even more than Clark Witness Clarks repeated snubs of the Queen

    Refusing to have Grace said at banquets

    Wearing trouser suits in Her Majestys presence

    Pity we werent back in Elizabeth 1 times and could have had the pleasure of seeing Clarks head parted from her shoulders

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  24. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Heard old Philin saying that Liarbore didn’t really believe in honours as they believed in an egalitarian society. Oh fucking please, when did the bloody socialist’s ever believe in egalitarianism. The only thing socialists wanted to be equal, in our society, was the taxpayers and workers to be equally poor will the ruling elite and intelligentsia were to be place on a pedestal. The left fawn over tittles but pretend for the great unwashed that they are above that sort of thing, they are full of it.

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  25. GPT1 (2,121 comments) says:

    A great move to reinstate the status quo and bring back true recognition to those who succeed to the highest level.

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  26. peterwn (3,271 comments) says:

    gd – oh come on! Elizabeth I and Helen would probably have got on likre a house on fire. Helen’s main fear would be that Elizabeth I may have grabbed Heather Simpson for her PA.

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  27. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    peterwn Yeeeees you are probably right the 2 bitches would have been plotting and scheming against those terrible awful men

    What a horriblethought

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  28. holdenrepublic (34 comments) says:

    “Bolgers an Irish Republican who hates the Poms”

    Err no. Bolger is Irish and a republican, but being an Irish republican also means being a democratic socialist (Sinn Fein for example). I’d like to see someone prove Bolger is / was a socialist with Ruth Richardson as his Minister of Finance…

    “Wearing trouser suits in Her Majestys presence”

    Give me a break. So did Thatcher and no-one complained. This was just a media beat up as a result of not having the prayer.

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  29. big bruv (13,886 comments) says:

    “(Sinn Fein for example).”

    You see that as laudable?

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  30. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    I’m happy with reinstating them as an interim – but surely this isn’t the end point. Someone needs to come up with some NZ titles that people can easily understand, and we can move to them. Why can’t we keep “Sir” but use it with a NZ title? And perhaps we could choose some names for those titles that mean something so that people can keep track of them. And I did like the suggestion of “Order of the Kiwi” – abbreviated “OK”.

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  31. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    Apologies holdenrepublic Bolger is of Irish decent and i understand favours a Republic for NZ

    Have I explained myself correctly.

    And we of the monarchist presuausion take our protocols seriously

    Just like the Maoris take their protocols seriously.

    Oh I forgot White males of English desent arent allowed to have protocols traditions etc.

    thats only preserved ofr the ‘special people”

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  32. holdenrepublic (34 comments) says:

    “(Sinn Fein for example).”

    You see that as laudable?

    Absolutely not. I was simply pointing out that the term “Irish Republican” has a specific meaning which is absurd when applied to Bolger. He’s not an Irish Republican.

    “Apologies holdenrepublic Bolger is of Irish decent and i understand favours a Republic for NZ”

    That makes him a New Zealand republican, not an Irish republican. My lineage is mainly English and Scottish, but that doesn’t make me an English republican. And anyway, being Irish doesn’t neccessarily make you a republican either.

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  33. LabourDoesntWork (290 comments) says:

    Frankly, the simplest reason justifying a return to the traditional honors system is that it was the likes of Helen Clark – a cabal of international socialists – who abolished it. These are people loyal to their political ideology, primarily, not their country.

    Each year New Zealand grows more confident and more secure in its unique identity. Inevitably it will become a republic. It makes no sense to revive an antiquated system that has its roots on the other side of the world.

    Fact is, New Zealand’s roots being on the other side of world *are* a large part of its identity. One can’t – and shouldn’t – simply pretend that it isn’t. Very few countries have benefited from the blessings brought by a founding rooted on these shared Western values. This is nothing to be taken for granted and should be taught in schools instead of the usual self-loathing leftwing rubbish that glorifies only other cultures – as if they are all better than our own. Were New Zealand to jettison this heritage utterly it would become just another Republic, and lose the identity it has.

    Btw, this same cultural nihilism undermining national identity in Britain *itself* manifests in suicidal immigration policies and creeping Islamisation. All rationalised by “multiculturalism”. Frankly that is meaningless pap serving only to rationalise the left’s inability and unwillingness to defend their own nation’s heritage and values. Similarly, reactionary “progressives” here, who think the past should be shunned, embrace Republicanism as an expression of their anti-conservatism. And the political nerds who find it trendy….

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  34. bearhunter (853 comments) says:

    “Was in contribuitions to Irish terrorism or water sports that hes suposed to be getting it for anyway?”

    Murray, Ted Kennedy was instrumental in stopping Irish terrorism, through his opposition to both the armed campaign adn the collection of money in the US via Noraid. No such defence for him on the other matter, however.

    “Pity we werent back in Elizabeth 1 times and could have had the pleasure of seeing Clarks head parted from her shoulders”

    Nice gd. Then we could start on the Catholics, I suppose?

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  35. big bruv (13,886 comments) says:

    gd

    Bolger is of Catholic Irish stock and let his religious bigotry colour his vision when it came to NZ and its connections with Great Britain.

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  36. LabourDoesntWork (290 comments) says:

    big bruv, sounds like the bigotry is your own towards Roman Catholics. How about a rational explanation for why Bolger’s position is wrong?

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  37. wikiriwhis business (3,996 comments) says:

    thanks for mentioning the Waikato Times David

    It’s our rag in hamilton and we love it

    And actually very well presented.

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  38. wikiriwhis business (3,996 comments) says:

    ““Pity we werent back in Elizabeth 1 times and could have had the pleasure of seeing Clarks head parted from her shoulders”

    Nice gd. Then we could start on the Catholics, I suppose?”

    you’re very historical and enlightened Bear.

    and don’t forget, QE1 trounced those papists :)

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  39. paradigm (452 comments) says:

    The Dom Post’s article is idiotic.

    1) The Dom post acknowledges that the previous system did not properly confer easily recognisable honours, and that adding the sir prefix addresses this very well. Indeed the term “sir” is at present a part of the basic english vocabulary denoting respect to the person it is applied to, and is thus easily recognisable by all. Some of the acronyms in the labour introduced honours system, conversely, sound like the person has a sexually transmitted disease.

    Conclusion: The restoration of titles does fix a big problem with the previous honours system, and is therefore worthwhile.

    2) The only actual objection is that titles are no longer relevant to a 21st century NZ which is confident in its own culture. I note that the same arguements can be made for the complete removal of Maori culture, treaty references, teaching Maori language etc and would honestly like to hear the editor’s opinion on doing so. I would suggest that by NZ culture, the Dom Post probably means Maori culture, as everything else has been classed as obsolete by the PC mob. The dom post obviously fails to realise that the majority of New Zealanders migrated from Europe (and most of those from Great Britain). We all speak the english language. Our laws, democratic system and sense of justice are inhereted from Britain. Even our national sport is British in origin (although we are actually good at it – at least three quarters of the time in four year cycles). So too is our culture strongly derived from old pre-industrial britain and imported during the initial settlement period. A time when you shut up and got things done rather than forming a new union every 10 minutes. As such it is fully appropriate that we retain this most efficient means of acknowledging those who display greatness of deed amongst us.

    Conclusion: Whoever wrote this for the Dom Post needs to stick their head in the toilet bowl and not remove it till their IQ improves.

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  40. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    “tug tug tug” would be sound of a green party troll at the computer actually.

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  41. Crusader (314 comments) says:

    Some really silly attitudes from the tall-poppy cutters out there.
    In what way is it “antiquated” to attach the title”sir” or “dame” to the names of the recipients of our honours? OK, so the practice is centuries old, but that is not in itself a reason to do away with it. Should we stop shaking hands because this tradition is centuries old? And instead solely use the hongi for the sole reason that this is a NZ-derived tradition and thus a sign that we are “confident and mature in our unique identity”? Nonsense.
    Let’s hongi in some circumstances, bow to eachother at times, but most of the time it is right to use the handshake which is the tradition of the majority of our heritage, and also the recognised worldwide standard.
    Our honours system actually IS a New Zealand designed one. NZ chooses the type of awards that are given out and NZ decides who gets the awards. To attach the title “sir” aids people from other countries to understand who we have honoured, without having to look up the meaning of each title. (What on earth the AO and AM mean in Australia I have no idea, and I wonder how many people outside the sunburnt continent actually do? Can Paul Williams tell us??)
    Ed Hillary was able to raise vast amounts of money to help the Sherpa people, and he was constantly using his title of “sir” to do so. Americans thought he was fabulous – they actually touched a real knight!!! And they donated handsomely for the priviledge. Imagine how much less he could do if he was simply Ed Hillary and a few letters after his name, and no “sir”. It actually makes a difference.

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