Every year, the New Year Honours elicit a chorus of naysayers, seemingly determined to convince the rest of us that the awards are outdated, irrelevant, a waste of time and don't really mean anything, anyway.

They may have a point, after all, our letters pages over the past few months have well and truly debated the merits (or not) of our connection to mother England (albeit in relation to dropping the Union Jack from our flag, but nevertheless).

I don't really have strong feelings either way on whether New Zealand belongs to the Queen or not. I mean, I like seeing what Kate Middleton wears every now and then, but that's about as far as my care levels go.

I do, however, have strong feelings on the importance of recognising and honouring those who do immense amounts of good in our country and community.


People such as Neil Craig, who founded the highly successful Craigs Investment Partners and was on the board of the New Zealand Stock Exchange at a time of significant restructuring. On a local level, he helped establish economic development agency Priority One and championed the establishment and development of Enterprise Angels, which he chairs. He was also instrumental in the redevelopment of the Bay Oval cricket ground.

Or people such as Valma Hallam who has provided support to people with Alzheimer's or dementia in the Tauranga area for the past 30 years.

"Alzheimer's can be an isolating condition, not just for the sufferers but families too. The highs of my role is helping people retain their dignity and still feel valued members of their community," she told the Bay of Plenty Times yesterday.

These are only two examples of the many, many people who give countless hours of their own time to help others, whether it's on a business level or one-to-one, in our community.

Regardless of how you feel about Aunty Liz, there's no denying the hard work and dedication of those who make our community a better place to live deserve all the honour they get.