Domestic violence campaigner Lesley Elliott says it's difficult to accept recognition for her work following the death of her daughter at the hands of a former boyfriend.

Mrs Elliott was among a group of people who was recognised at an investiture ceremony in Wellington today.

The ceremony was held at Government House this morning and was hosted by Governor General Sir Jerry Mataparae and his wife, Lady Janine.

Mrs Elliott, from Dunedin, was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the prevention of domestic violence.


Her daughter, Sophie, was killed at her home in Dunedin seven years ago by former boyfriend Clayton Weatherston.

Mrs Elliott set up the Sophie Elliott Foundation to raise awareness among young people of partner abuse and delivers talks on domestic violence to community groups as schools nationwide.

She has also penned two books, Sophie's Legacy, and, Loves Me Not - How to Keep Relationships Safe.

Speaking through tears after today's ceremony she said it was a "great honour" but "conflicting".

"It's just a little bit hard to express really how I feel," she said.

"I just thought most of the people today are celebrating something really honourable and good... it's just hard thinking of Sophie and why I'm here."

She was in "disbelief" when she learnt she would be receiving the honour, she said.

"They ask if you will accept and I wasn't too sure about it, I actually took a few days to think about it, which seems a bit ridiculous really when you are offered recognition.

"But it is a recognition of domestic violence and how bad it is in New Zealand and so many women, like Sophie, lose their lives and we've just got to try and turn that around somehow.

"That's my goal, so that other families don't have to go through what we've been through. Unfortunately Sophie has been dead now for seven-and-a-half years and there have been a lot of woman who have died and children, through domestic violence."

She was surprised at how much she had learnt about domestic violence, she said.

"I guess I was pretty naive prior to Sophie's death but certainly over the last few years I've realised just how bad it is out there for a lot of people.

"I just find it really hard. I suppose because I see life in a different light now. This country is so beautiful and there is so much sadness and hurt that is going on with women and families really."

The main message was for woman to "get out" of abusive relationships.

It was the psychological abuse that was often hard to recognise from the start, she said.

"...That's really where Sophie came from. He didn't actually physically abuse her until near the end.

"I say to girls... there are lots of nice guys out there, you don't have to put up with it and really you don't. We need to stick up for that and just say we are not going to tolerate it anymore."

David Kernohan, of Carterton, was also made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for his services to architecture.

Mr Kernohan taught architecture, urban design and building heritage and conservation at Victoria University in Wellington for more than 22 years.

He is also a Deputy Environment Commissioner and has published two books about Wellington buildings.

He was appointed by the Building Industry Authority to investigate leaky houses, with his investigation forming part of the report which became a critical component in the review of the Building Act.

Mr Kernohan said he was nervous when accepting his honour today.

"It just dawned on me the other day... I was just getting prepared... it's been quite awhile since the announcement."

A highlight of his long career had been teaching students.

"The learnings that I get from young people and young enthusiastic people who have got so much knowledge about contemporary times I can feed off, it is very satisfying working with young people," he said.

"I still do a little bit of teaching because I just enjoy the contact with young people and their enthusiasm."

It was "humbling" to be surrounded by people who had contributed to their communities, he said.

"When you see the range of activities in the communities... it's a real honour to be among people who have done so much for their community."