In the past decade I've rung dozens of New Year Honours recipients to snare some quick reaction.

As most reporters will tell you it's akin to getting blood out of a stone. Without exception, the one thing they have in common is that none of them want their name in lights. Most deflect the praise, pay tribute to others and claim they're not worthy.

That's the irony with these honours; modesty is a symptom of the selfless disposition that secured the nomination in the first place.

Hawke's Bay boasts five names on this year's list: Marj Joe, Colin Crombie, Barbara Arnott, Garry Dockary and Dr John Kerr.


It's a disparate group.

Among the achievements are hard yards in the fields of local government, health, emergency services, business and philanthropy. Some are household names, others not so well known, performing more understated, but equally crucial, functions in the community.

A report from the Prime Minister's Honours Advisory Committee states the honours system is a way for New Zealand to "say thanks".

"We believe that such recognition is consistent with the egalitarian character of New Zealand society and enlivens and enriches it."

Hawke's Bay Today agrees. These names should be feted and toasted with a glass of the province's vino at some time today.

At this quieter time of year it's nice to stop and acknowledge those whose contributions pay a handsome dividend to the community we live in.

I'm told the final honours lists are approved by The Queen of New Zealand, on the Prime Minister's advice, as The Queen is, after all, New Zealand's Head of State.

But as the humility of our recipients reminds us, these honours are a far cry from pomp and ceremony. Just ask those whose lives have been enriched by these five.

The nicest thing about the announcements is not only the timing, this being the final day of 2013, but that the accolades are a reflection on the community at large.