Sevens rugby legend Gordon Tietjens has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
Tietjens, who lives in Mount Maunganui, told the Bay of Plenty Times he was surprised and shocked when he received a letter three weeks ago advising him he had been nominated to become a knight.
"I didn't really believe it when I read the letter. I was very humbled that I had been seen in such a light and after a few discussions with my partner, Jules, and my kids, Paul and Kylie, I decided to accept it," he said.
In honour of his services to sevens rugby, Tietjens has been bestowed with the title 'sir', just weeks after guiding the All Blacks Sevens to a record 11th IRB World Series title in 14 years. He has also won the Rugby World Cup for sevens, won four gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and was inducted into the International IRB Hall of Fame in 2012.
He is regarded as one of the world's most successful coaches and has been in charge of the sevens national team since 1994. He also coached the Bay of Plenty Steamers from 1996 to 2002 and played more than 100 first-class games as a loose forward.
"It is a great recognition for a lot of time I have put in, but also, in accepting it, I am thanking a lot of other people for what they have done for me to receive such an award in terms of support," he said.
"First and foremost, my employers Bay Engineer Supplies and particularly Warrick and Lesley Talbot, who have been a real rock in supporting me since 1983 when I started with the company.
"Also the New Zealand Rugby Union and all my family, friends, my management team and the players.
"I have worked with some wonderful players over the years and a big thank you to Eric Rush, who was the guy who started everything for me. He was my captain for 13 years and he inspired me and taught me a lot as well."
Despite the new title, Tietjens says he does not want to be treated any differently.
"Titch is what I have always been known as and there is nothing different now. You may have that name in title but I think if they do call me 'sir' it will be in a joking way and be having me on in a lot of ways."
Before every leg of the IRB World Series, Tietjens brings the All Blacks sevens squad to Tauranga to train at Blake Park. The field was officially named Gordon Tietjens Field by Tauranga City Council last year.
He has previously been honoured with a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1999 and the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2007.