Wealthy expatriate Owen Glenn, who gave $500,000 to the Labour Party before the 2005 election, has been made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Mr Glenn, the multimillionaire founder and chairman of the OTS Logistics Group, which operates in 177 countries, was honoured for his services to business and the community.
In 2005, he made the single largest private donation to education when he gave $7.5 million to the University of Auckland's new business school.
Labour Party president Mike Williams rejected any suggestion that Labour had rewarded the man who was also its largest donor at the last elections.
"I know it will be interpreted in that fashion, but I think he richly deserves it. He is a generous man who supports a country he hasn't lived in for many, many years."
Mr Glenn had not made any donations to Labour since 2005, but he would certainly be approached before next year's elections.
In June 2005, Mr Glenn said he did not expect anything in return from Labour. His gift had been a "spontaneous gesture".
Under the Electoral Finance Act, Mr Glenn, as an expatriate New Zealander, will be able to continue making political donations.
But wealthy foreigners, such as American billionaire Julian Robertson, who contributed to National last election, are now banned from giving money to political parties.
Mr Williams said Mr Glenn told him he supported several political parties in New Zealand.
The National Party had no comment on Mr Glenn's honour, a spokesman said yesterday.
But it drew a derisive response from Act leader Rodney Hide.
"I think it's great," he said. "We've often wondered what you had to do to get the big gong, and we now know it's $500,000 to the Labour Party."
Told that Mr Glenn had said he supported several political parties, Mr Hide said he was confident Act was not one of them.
Mr Glenn left Mt Roskill Grammar at 15, and has not lived in New Zealand since 1966. He commutes between Monaco, England and a house in Sydney's Double Bay.
He supports many international and New Zealand charities and non-profit organisations, including the Millennium Institute of Sport, the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation, the Breast Cancer Foundation and the Manaakitanga Aotearoa Charitable Trust.
* OWEN GLENN (ONZM)
Lives in Sydney, Monaco and England.
Made his fortune in freight forwarding, mainly overseas.
Gave $500,000 to Labour before the 2005 election.
Gave $7.5 million to the University of Auckland.
Also gives to many charities and non-profit organisations.