The Topp Twins are now " a couple of Dames".

The well-known duo, Lynda and Jools Topp, were made Dame Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to entertainment at Government House this afternoon.

They were honoured during a special all-women ceremony to mark 125 years of suffrage.

Other distinguished women also receiving honours included Kirsten Hellier, the former coach of Dame Valerie Adams and Jackie Clarke.


As Jools Topp was the first to receive her medal from Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, Lynda made a point of it, whipping her head around to the intimate gathering of whanau and friends to joke - "she's the oldest". Sure enough, laughter erupted around the room.

The pair were draped in korowai - the first Dames in New Zealand to wear them. The korowai, woven by Kiri Nathan, is a new addition to the investiture of Dames.

The Topp twins then sang a waiata, with Jools ending it with "Kia kaha, be strong".

Speaking after the half-hour ceremony, Lynda and Jools said becoming Dames was very special indeed.

Jools said the honour was also an acknowledgement of the fight other people had fought along with them over the years.

They then joked about changing up their name for their next show, suggesting after a few laughs - "A Couple of Dames".

Their parents, Jean and Peter, said they were "very proud" of their daughters too, with Jean quickly adding "not only today but for the last 60 years".

"The girls have succeeded far beyond any wishes we ever had" she said, smiling.


"I never thought they would become Dames."

When their names appeared on the Queen's Birthday honours list in June, the pair briefly debated whether to accept the title.

"I said, 'Jools, what do you reckon?'" Lynda recalled. 'The rebels are getting their medals' she said'.

"It feels right to be acknowledged for all the fights we've fought. We're being acknowledged as entertainers but we've had a voice over all these years."

The Topp Twins perform after their investiture ceremony.

Born in Huntly in 1958 and raised on a dairy farm, the duo started by entertaining family and friends.

After a stint in the Territorials they busked in Auckland, attracting students and the queer community with harmonious political songs.


Crowds grew and soon they were travelling the country with backpacks and guitars as The Topp Twins.

Upfront about being lesbian, their country and western-inspired songs and comedy won a wide-ranging audience.

They sang at the frequent protest marches and public rallies of the early 1980s, writing and performing a song for every new cause.

Mainstream success came when an early stage show was filmed for an award-winning television special.

Their place in Kiwi culture was cemented with The Topp Twins: Do Not Adjust Your Twinset, which ran for three seasons from 1996.

A mix of documentary, comedy and musical, the show featured now legendary characters such as Ken & Ken, and Camp Leader and Camp Mother.


In 2000 Camp Leader and Camp Mother hosted quiz show Mr and Mrs, in which couples answered questions about how well they knew each other.

They returned to TV in 2014 with Topp Country, a culinary journey around New Zealand.

The show ran for three series, the second winning a Television Award for Best Entertainment Presenter — three decades after they won the same category for a Topp Twins special.

They've also released two albums and five best-selling children's audio books.

Being made Dames is the latest in a string of honours.

The Twins were made Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004.


They were inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2008, presented with the Rielly Comedy Award from the Variety Artists Club in 2009, given honorary master's degrees from Wintec in 2010 and awarded honorary doctorates from Waikato University in 2011.