New Zealand's Queen's Birthday Honours list is revealed today and what a varied list it is.

For alongside the names we know and the names we've never heard of, for services to health, the community, and services to bonsai and services to quilting (which both came as a surprise to me), there are some accolades that are a real sign of the times.

Juxtaposed in an archaic system of honours bestowed by our reigning monarch on her birthday are honours for "services to digital literacy education" and "services to the software industry".

But more of an eye opener, and heartening, is a name that crops up under the heading of Dames Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, and that's the name Catherine Alice Healy. She has been honoured for her services to the rights of sex workers.

Who would have, could have thought when the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective was established in 1987, that one day its co-founder would be recognised in such a way.


A year after its inception the NZPC signed a contract with the Minister of Health to provide a range of services to sex workers with a focus on HIV and Aids.

In 2003 the collective celebrated the passing of the Prostitution Reform Bill, effectively decriminalising prostitution.

What a long way we have come and what a great accolade for Catherine after such a hard-fought career.

The honours list is a snapshot in time. The first Queen's Birthday Honours - those of Queen Victoria in 1860 - were all men, most in Her Majesty's military and civil service.
Today we have Catherine Healey and the Topp Twins.

What of the future?