Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Ceremony presents New Year's Honours awards

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, who presented the honours, said the ceremony was the single most important event he participated in. Photo / APN
Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, who presented the honours, said the ceremony was the single most important event he participated in. Photo / APN

New Zealanders named in the New Years Honours List for their contributions to the community received their gongs at a ceremony in Auckland today.

Among them were motor industry magnate and philanthropist Sir Colin Giltrap, former Director-General of Health Stephen McKernan and cardiac nurse Christine Orchard, who was tasked with dealing with families whose relatives' hearts were collected by Greenlane Hospital without consent, were among those honoured at Government House in Mt Eden this morning.

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, who presented the honours, said the ceremony was the single most important event he participated in.

"It is important because I am able, as (the Queen's representative) and as the governor-general and on behalf of all New Zealanders, to recognise and thank an extraordinary group of people who make ours a better society."

Ms Orchard received the Queen's Service Medal for her services to medicine.

She became custodian of Green Lane Heart Registry in the wake of revelations in 2002 that hundreds of babies', children's and adults' hearts had been collected without families' consent.

She had the difficult job of resolving this; delivering hearts back to families and counselling them.

The hospital was meant to break the news to families in a "controlled" manner, but information was leaked to the media, causing uncertainty and distress.

"It was a very difficult time," she told APNZ after the ceremony.

"It was very difficult for a lot of families and for a lot of staff working at Greenlane who had been involved with the paediatric cardiac service for a long time.

'Talking to the families about it, a lot of them could understand why it happened but were upset that they hadn't been asked permission."

Practices and procedures had drastically changed since she took charge of the registry in 2003.

Since then, she has also used her annual leave to volunteer as camp nurse at Camp Brave Hearts, a week-long camp for 8- to 12-year-olds with heart disease.

"I don't do it for rewards, I just love my nursing role. I love working with children with congenital heart defects and I love volunteering at the camp every year so I can see them in a normal situation and not in pyjamas with a wound on their chests," she said.

Sir Colin Giltrap, who was knighted today, said he wasn't sure what to make of his new title.

"I think it's quite a good honour. I didn't realise when I first received it in the new year quite how much it meant but I'm starting to slowly get used to it.

"I'm still a little but intrepid about it because I'm still Colin to everybody and a few of the staff don't know whether to call me Sir Colin or Colin but, I mean, I want to get the message around that I haven't changed: I'm just Colin, always have been and always will be."

Sir Colin established the motor company Giltrap Group Holdings and was the owner of the New Zealand franchise of the A1 Grand Pri of Motorsport.

He is patron of the McLaren Trust and has supported and mentored numerous young drivers, and has contributed to many sporting events and charities including the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal and the Starship Foundation.

"It might not be big donations, it might be two and a half grand here, a thousand there and that sort of thing, but we enjoy helping New Zealanders where we can," he said.

But being a patron isn't always smooth sailing.

"Probably the worst initiative was paying huge money to get Tiger Woods out here for the New Zealand Open at Paraparam (Paraparaumu) but it rained all the time and he didn't perform at all.

"No, usually it's great, very rewarding," he said.

- APNZ

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