Buckingham Palace has announced:
At The Queen’s request, new rules for the granting and use of the title “The Right Honourable” will apply in New Zealand to preserve an important mark of distinction for the holders of the Nation’s highest public offices.
Henceforth, those appointed to the offices of the Governor-General, Prime Minister, Speaker and Chief Justice will be granted the title “The Right Honourable” ex officio, for life. This will bring a measure of association and continuity with the recent past; formerly, the most senior members of the Judiciary and the Executive in New Zealand gained this right upon appointment to the Privy Council, a practice which no longer exists.
John Key, up until today, was looking to be pretty much the only NZ Prime Minister not to be a Right Hon. He comments:
Prime Minister John Key says while he was personally content to have the title “Honourable”, he appreciates the Queen’s wish to recognise service in the office of the Prime Minister.
“Her Majesty believes it is appropriate also to acknowledge the service of the Governor-General, the Queen’s representative in New Zealand, the Speaker, the highest officer in the House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice, the head of the judicial branch of government.
I understand this is normal practice in other realms. and makes more sense to me than appointing people to the UK Privy Council. I really don’t think this is something the PM would have pushed.
The Chief Justice was already a Rt Hon – the second to last one appointed before today. Joining her are the GG, the PM and the Dr the Rt Hon Lockwood Smith.
Personally I feel the title got devalued back in 1998 when Winston was made a Rt Hon.