Retiring New Zealand Post chief executive and new knight Sir Brian Roche grew up in Hawke's Bay and was called back as a deputy commissioner of the area's District Health Board after a controversial board sacking by Minister of Health David Cunliffe in 2008.

Sir Brian, who lives in Khandallah, Wellington, was at Catholic school St John's College, Hastings, in the 1970s before studying at Victoria University in Wellington and starting his career as an accountant in 1979 with Coopers and Lybrand (now PwC).

In the New Year Honours announced on Saturday, he was named a Knight Companion of the NZ Order of Merit "for services to the State and business".

Others added to the order included Dame Georgina Kingi, long-time principal and past-pupil of Napier's St Joseph Maori Girls College, also a Catholic school.

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Sir Brian, who leaves the NZ Post job in April, has had varied service ranging from public sector roles starting with secondment to the Prime Minister's Department and working with four Prime Ministers over the years, to his chairmanship of the Hurricanes rugby franchise, leadership of the bid to win New Zealand the right to stage the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and eventual chairmanship of the organising structure following the premature resignation of now-late founding chairman Jock Hobbs.

He was chairman of the First World War Centenary Panel and contributed to the successful running of centenary events throughout New Zealand.

An honours list citation says he was chief Crown negotiator on Treaty of Waitangi settlements in the 1990s and is recognised as having been a major contributor to the successful outcome of the Ngai Tahu settlement, which laid the framework for subsequent Treaty negotiations.

He was also foundation chairman of the Auckland Regional Transport Agency and the New Zealand Transport Authority when it was established in 2008, currently chairs Wellington Gateway Project, overseeing the Transmission Gully State Highway 1 development, and has recently been named to be foundation chairman of Auckland's City Rail Link Ltd.