New Zealand poet Sam Hunt likes to align his new Queen's Birthday honour with his love for a famous Chilean poet and that they are now both "companeros".

Hunt has been made a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to poetry.

He and his younger son Alf call the CNZM his "companero" after the poet Pablo Neruda - at whose 1973 funeral mourners chanted "Companero Pablo Neruda!" as they protested against the new Chilean military dictatorship.

"I'm a companero. I don't know what Buckingham Palace would have to say about that but that's me, I am a companero," Hunt said.

It puts him in good company but he is unsure quite what to make of a CNZM.

"What's it meant to mean to anyone? I don't know. I am a loner but I like good company and to be a companion is nice," he said.

"I wouldn't want to be a commander or anything like that."

Hunt said he did not have a clue who nominated him for the honour "but whoever did, thank you, and thanks for having the faith in me".

The tall and rangy, gravelly-voiced poet is one of New Zealand's most distinctive figures and certainly one of our most recognised poets.

Hunt's poetry has been in print for more than 40 years and the CNZM joins his Queen's Service Medal (QSM), awarded in 1986, which he appropriates as his "Quiet, Sober Man" honour.

Hunt, who lives on the Kaipara in Northland, said he might take off for a few days to avoid the attention surrounding his CNZM.

"I live in a fairly remote part of the world, so it's not too difficult to get lost."

He said his rewards in life continued to be the few he was close to and the place where he was.

However, as to be expected, the CNZM will not inspire a poem or a change in tack.

"Poems don't come up because you think you should write one. Poems come from somewhere else. I can't imagine writing a poem about an award, but then I don't know. What am I going to dream about when I next sleep? It's the subconscious that takes over."

Hunt said that to be a companion had a nice feel but "whether it means I am going to join the literary establishment, which I certainly have no intention of doing, or voting on the side of the bosses, I don't think any of those things will be happening".

- NZPA