Prime Minister John Key says he is mindful of the gender imbalance when awarding honours - which was particularly stark in the Queen's Birthday titles.

The Government approved five knights and only one dame in the Queen's Birthday honours list.

"We are always conscious of that issue," he said at his post-Cabinet press conference.

"We go to great lengths to make sure the names on the list are worthy, irrelevant of gender or ethnicity."

He said most recommendations to the honours and appointments committee and by it were for men.

"But we do our best to try and find females worthy of a damehood."