All Blacks Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock receive New Zealand Order of Merit

Keven Mealamu walked alone when he received his Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit medal from Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae this afternoon.

But in his heart, he wasn't alone. Five others were with him - his parents, his wife and his two children.

They share in his honour, the former All Black hooker told media after the ceremony to recognise the contributions of Mealamu, fellow former All Black Tony Woodcock and 11 other high-achieving Kiwis.

"They are the ones who put in a lot of sacrifice and a lot of time for me to be able to do the things I wanted to achieve in the rugby jersey. A lot of people think it's a glamorous job ... but sometimes you feel like a part-time parent so it's nice to be able to share this moment with them."

Life had been busy since he retired from playing rugby following the All Blacks Rugby World Cup triumph in November.

As well as working with the rugby union he had been helping out at home.

"[I've enjoyed] being able to do some normal things, dropping the kids off at school and helping wifey with a few things [at home] that have been hanging over my head."

It was nice sharing today's ceremony at Government House in Auckland with Woodcock, who was also named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, he said.

"We played together a long time ... last time I saw him was a month ago, the beard's definitely grown a lot more since then. "

Woodcock also acknowledged the support of family.

"It's a big honour ... for my family, it's a special thing to have.

Sir Jerry spoke quietly to each recipient as they received their honour and told the 60 friends and family gathered at the ceremony he did not usually share his words with anyone else.

"But I did say to Tony Woodcock he deserved has recognition for the try he scored in the 2011 world cup final," Sir Jerry said.

Woodcock agreed the try - pivotal in securing the All Blacks 8-7 victory over France - was special.

"It's definitely right up there [for my proudest moment]."

Others recognised yesterday included those who have helped the community in areas including health, science and education, disability and the environment and by supporting Indian, Maori and Pasifika communities.

Sir David Fagan and Dame Paula Rebstock received our highest honour for services to shearing and the state respectively.

David Fagan, for services to shearing, after receiving the Insignia of a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Photo / Brett Phibbs
David Fagan, for services to shearing, after receiving the Insignia of a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Mealamu acknowledged the contribution of others.

"It's awesome to see the many different ways New Zealanders are able to contribute to New Zealand, for us in rugby and to see the lady who helped in the Indian community and another lady who helped with Pacific Islanders ... there was a shearer there.

"It's very diverse and that's what makes our country special. "

- NZ Herald

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