Key Points:

Jonah Lomu was a significant player in a notable team of New Zealanders who received awards in this morning's investitures ceremony at Government House in Wellington.

Lomu, invested as a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to rugby, said he "was a bit overwhelmed and very, very honoured."

The rugby great, who received a Special Merit Award from the International Rugby Players' Association in 2003, said the latest award was particularly special for him.

"This is a bit more meaningful - coming from home. Also for rugby, which is something I really care about," he said.

Alongside Lomu, receiving honours from Governor-General Anand Satyanand, was a line-up of other prominent New Zealanders including jurist Sir Kenneth Keith, writer Patricia Grace, entertainer Ginette McDonald and shearer David Fagan.

Sir Kenneth said receiving the Order of New Zealand was a "humbling privilege", and commented on the different sorts of people in the ceremony.

"One of the great things actually is the great mixture of New Zealanders who got awards," he said.

McDonald, who received her insignia as an officer of Order of Merit for her services to entertainment, said the other people receiving awards contributed to the significance of her award.

"It's an endorsement to keep going, in very distinguished company. I'm very proud of some of the other recipients," she said.

Fagan, also honoured as an officer of the Order of Merit, said what made the event special for him was having his family there.

"My children are old enough now and they'll remember this forever."

- NZPA