For the first time in at least 15 years no Northlanders have been recognised for their efforts in the New Year Honours List.

Almost 180 people received recognition in the honours list, with retired All Blacks captain and double Rugby World Cup winner Richie McCaw receiving the highest accolade, being made a Member of the Order of New Zealand (ONZ) for services to New Zealand.

Four people received the next highest honours given out this time, with Jane Campion made a Dame Companion of the Order of NZ (DNZM) for services to film and Paula Rebstock made a DNZM for services to the state. The Honourable Terrence Arnold was made a Knight Companion of the Order of NZ (KNZM) for services to the judiciary while champion shearer David Fagan was made a KNZM for services to shearing.

Fourteen people were made Companions of the NZ Order of Merit (CNZM); six were made Companions of the Queen's Service Order (QSO); 37 were made Officers of the NZ Order of Merit (ONZM); 61 were made Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM); 52 received the Queen's Service Medal; and three members of the armed forces received Distinguished Service Decorations (DSD).

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And while nobody from Northland received any honour, it may have been because none were nominated or that those nominated declined the honour. The Cabinet Office of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is in charge of the honours system and Rachel Hayward, deputy secretary of Cabinet (constitutional and honours), said honours were driven by nominations received. Anyone can nominate a person they think is worthy of an honour.

"Twice a year the Prime Minister, with the assistance of a Cabinet committee of ministers, considers all nominations received, and a shortlist is made for submission to the Queen.

"The number of nominations received always exceeds the number of honours available," Ms Hayward said.

"With the exception of New Zealand Defence Force personnel, all nominees on the shortlist are asked by the official secretary to the Governor-General whether the proposal to include their name in an honours list is acceptable, before the Queen formally approves an honour.

"If a nominee declines, their name does not go forward for approval."

The office does not give out details of individual nominations, including a decline of a proposed honour, so it's not known how many, or if any, Northlanders were nominated.

Ms Hayward said there are usually several people from Northland on each Queen's Birthday and New Year honours lists.

A check of Northern Advocate records back to 2000 found that every honours list since then had contained Northlanders.

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* Who in Northland do you think deserves an honour and why? Send your response to letters@northernadvocate.co.nz.