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New Zealand Royal Honours FAQs

The New Zealand Royal Honours System


What type of honours are there?

The New Zealand Royal Honours system is made up of three Orders: the Order of New Zealand; the New Zealand Order of Merit; the Queen's Service Order and associated Queen's Service Medal; and other awards including the New Zealand Bravery and Gallantry Awards; the New Zealand Distinguished Service Decoration and the New Zealand Antarctic Medal. The types of honours, and what they are awarded for can be found here.

An A3 poster resource showing an overview of the New Zealand Royal Honours system can be downloaded here.


Where can I find images of insignia?

You can find images online in the New Zealand Royal Honours Image Gallery on the DPMC website.


When are Honours lists announced?

Honours lists are issued on the occasion of the New Year (30/31 December), the New Zealand observance of The King's Birthday (first Monday in June) and in Special Lists (e.g. for Gallantry and Bravery Awards) as required.


Who considers nominations and decides on who gets which particular honour?

All nominations are considered by the APH Cabinet Committee comprising a group of Ministers chaired by the Prime Minister. The formal responsibility for making recommendations to The King for the grant of honours rests with the Prime Minister.

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Nominations for a New Zealand Royal Honour


Who is able to make nominations?

Anyone can nominate a person they think is worthy of a New Zealand Royal Honour. A person cannot nominate themselves.


How do I nominate someone for a New Zealand Royal Honour?

You must complete a nomination form and send it to the Honours Unit, Cabinet Office, in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Nominations require at least two letters from people other than the nominator who can provide further information about the nominee’s contributions and achievements and who support the nominee receiving a New Zealand Royal Honour.

More detailed guidelines on making a nomination can be viewed here.


When do nominations need to be submitted?

Nominations are accepted throughout the year and will be assigned to the next available honours list for consideration. Nominations need to be submitted at least six months in advance of when a list will be announced at either King’s Birthday or New Year to be considered for that particular list.


What do I need to write about in a nomination?

A nomination should succinctly demonstrate how the nominee’s contributions have made an impact, or how their achievements stand out, and why they are suitable for a New Zealand Royal honour.

When preparing a nomination you will need to emphasise how your nominee stands out above and beyond their peers. A nomination should not just be a CV of positions held. For example, many people may hold leadership positions in community organisations for a number of years – a nomination should go beyond stating that a nominee led an organisation for five years and explain what actions the nominee took in that role, and why their term in charge was more successful or had a greater impact than others who have held the role previously or subsequently.


Can I nominate a family member for an honour?

Yes, you can nominate a family member for a New Zealand Royal Honour. However in these cases we would emphasise also sourcing letters of support from other people not related to your nominee who are familiar with the nominee’s contributions and achievements.


Can I nominate a foreign citizen for a New Zealand honour?

Yes, but such nominations should have a strong New Zealand connection. Nominees who are not New Zealand citizens should be contributing or achieving while resident in New Zealand, or if living overseas a nomination should demonstrate how the nominee has benefitted New Zealand as a country or helped New Zealanders overseas.


Can a posthumous nomination be made?

Apart from Gallantry and Bravery Awards, appointments to the New Zealand Orders cannot be made for people who have died.

In the case of honours for meritorious services to the community and to other fields of endeavour, announced on the occasion of the New Year and The King’s Birthday, a nominee is required to indicate their acceptance of the honour before The King formally approves the appointment to a particular Order. People who have died cannot indicate their acceptance.

Where informal approval has been given by The King and the nominee has been sounded and has agreed to accept the award, but the nominee dies before The King formally approves the appointment, the award will stand. The honour will be announced with a notation to the effect that “His Majesty’s approval to the honour was given prior to the date of decease". If the nominee has been sounded but dies before indicating their acceptance, the nomination lapses.


Can I nominate someone who already has an honour?

People who have received a New Zealand Royal honour can be considered for higher honours. A nomination for higher honours must show how the person has gone above and beyond the contributions for which they have already been recognised, and/or how the nominee has made significant contributions in a new field since their existing honour. As a general rule it should be at least five years since the person received their existing honour.


How many honours nominations are received every year?

A total of around 800 to 1000 nominations are considered each year.


How many honours are granted each year?

Up to about 400 honours are granted each year across the combined King’s Birthday and New Year lists.


When will I hear if my nomination has been successful or not?

We will acknowledge receipt of a nomination with a formal letter to the nominator noting the honours list for which the nominee will be considered. No further communication is entered into on the status of the nomination. You will need to wait until the relevant honours list (New Year or King’s Birthday) is announced to see if your nominee is included on the list.


Why did my nominee not receive an honour?

Many hundreds of nominations are received each year, and while every nomination is given individual consideration, not all can be successful. The consideration of New Zealand Royal Honours is conducted on an in-confidence basis and information on the status and consideration of individual nominations will not be disclosed.


If a nomination I submitted is unsuccessful, how do I re-nominate?

If your nominee is not included on an honours list you can write to the Honours Unit or email to request that your nominee be reconsidered for inclusion on the next available honours list. As we ask for new nominations to be submitted at least six months in advance of a list announcement, re-nomination requests should be submitted promptly after a list announcement to be included for the next list consideration.

Re-nominations do not require the material previously submitted to be re-supplied, but additional information about new service or achievements since the original nomination can be submitted if relevant. For new information to be taken into account it should be submitted promptly along with the re-nomination request.

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About recipients of Honours


How can I find out if somebody has received a New Zealand Royal Honour?

New Zealand’s honours lists from the Queen’s Birthday 1995 list to the present day are published on the DPMC website (click here to view these lists) and the DPMC website can be searched for individual names. New Zealand Royal Honours lists are also published online through the New Zealand Gazette back to 1993 and can also be searched for individuals.

Honours lists prior to 1993 have been published in the New Zealand Gazette and hard copies of these lists can be accessed through institutions such as public libraries.


How do you correctly address a Knight or Dame?

A guide on the titles and styles of Knights and Dames, and the use of the courtesy title ‘Lady’, can be found here.


Can honours be taken away from recipients?

Yes. This process is called forfeiture – a dedicated information page about the processes of removing someone’s honour can be viewed here.

Since 1980, there have been four occasions where honours have been forfeited. Details of a forfeiture are published in the New Zealand Gazette.


What should I do if my relative with an honour has died?

On the death of a recipient please write to the Honours Unit or email noting the full name of the recipient, the honour they received, and the date and location of their death (city/town is sufficient and country if overseas).


Does the insignia of an honours recipient need to be returned on their death?

Insignia of New Zealand Orders or awards (The New Zealand Order of Merit, The Queen’s Service Order and associated Queen’s Service Medal, Gallantry, Bravery and other New Zealand State Awards) can be kept by the family in accordance with any wishes outlined by the deceased recipient.

Only the insignia of Members of the Order of New Zealand (see image here) needs to be returned to the Honours Unit when a recipient dies, as recipients sign a covenant to return these badges on their death for re-issue to new Members of the Order.

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As A Recipient of an Honour


I have received a New Zealand Royal Honour on the New Year/King’s Birthday honours list – what happens now?

Government House will be in contact with recipients following announcement of an honours list to invite them to an investiture ceremony where they will receive their full-size insignia. Investitures are usually held around four months after announcement of the New Year/King’s Birthday honours lists.


When can recipients of honours use titles and postnominals associated with their honour?

An honour takes effect from the date of announcement of an honours list – recipients can use their entitled post-nominal letters after their name (see our guidance on using postnominals and the Order of Wear for sequence) and any title associated with the honour (e.g. Sir or Dame) immediately.


When is it appropriate for recipients to wear their insignia?

The wearing of insignia, full-size or miniature, on any occasion is at the discretion of the holder. However for formal events the organiser may determine the appropriateness of insignia being worn and may indicate this on invitations (usually shown as ‘Decorations’).

Generally holders of honours may be more comfortable wearing miniatures at evening functions such as dinners instead of the larger and heavier full-size insignia. Lapel badges are usually worn on less formal occasions or on a more day-to-day basis and are not worn in conjunction with full-size or miniature insignia.


How can recipients replace lost or stolen insignia?

Replacement insignia can be purchased by honours recipients only during their lifetime – please contact the Honours Unit to request the relevant forms. Lost or stolen full-size or miniature insignia require a statutory declaration form to be completed by the recipient before replacements can be issued, as New Zealand Royal Honours insignia is only issued for the personal wear of the recipient during their lifetime.

Replacement lapel badges can be purchased without a statutory declaration form. Please contact the Honours Unit for a lapel badge order form.

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Last updated: 
Wednesday, 5 October 2022

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