Two high-profile sports coaches, a Supreme Court judge, a trailblazer for women in politics, a disabilities advocate and a heritage champion are among the New Zealanders being recognised for their outstanding contributions in today's New Year Honours.

Overall, 180 New Zealanders, split evenly between men and women, have been recognised for their involvement in art and media, business and economics, education, health, sport, community, science and technology and services to the state.

Outgoing All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has a knighthood for his services to rugby and Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua is one of the country's newest dames.

READ MORE: New Year Honours 2020: The full list

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They are joined by Dr Anna Crighton, who has been made a dame companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to heritage preservation and governance in her bid to fight to save historic and protected buildings, and Professor Marilyn Waring, who is recognised for services to women and economics.

Sir Joe Williams, appointed the first Māori judge of the Supreme Court in May, has been made a knight, for services to judiciary, alongside Sir Robert Martin, recognised for more than 30 years' service to people with learning disabilities.

Joseph Williams. Photo / Supplied
Joseph Williams. Photo / Supplied

Not all the recipients felt entirely comfortable with being singled out.

Taurua, who is credited for turning around the Silver Ferns and leading them to victory in the Netball World Cup in July, said there had been so many people involved with the sport and who had served the community for a long time.

"I read Sir Edmund Hillary's [book] after receiving his knighthood, what he did ... that was my own way of finding where it actually sat properly."

Taurua said while many people were made dames or knights at the end of their careers, she still had a lot of time in hers to give back to the sport.

Focus: Silver Ferns coach, Noeline Taurua, has been made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Video / Adam Davey / File / mbphotonz

Waring, a former MP who is also a professor of public policy at the Auckland University of Technology, admitted that in the past she might have refused the honour and puts her acceptance down to mellowing with age.

"I thought, well look, [Dame] Patsy [Reddy] will give it to me and Jacinda [Ardern] is the Prime Minister. So if I'm going to do it, it feels like a good time."

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the recipients were a diverse group of well-deserving Kiwis.

"It is a true reflection of New Zealand that the biggest category of recipients this year is for community, voluntary and local services. We are a country that values taking care of one another and it is fitting that these people are recognised for their efforts. Of course there is a healthy showing from the sporting world, too, and a top honour for Steve Hansen and Noeline Taurua."

Ardern also recognised Martin's work in the disability section and his independent expert role with the United Nations, which she said was the first of its kind in the world.

She said Waring, an MP between 1975 and 1984, was respected internationally for her work on economics, women's issues and aid, and had been a role model to many young women.

Dame Marilyn Waring has been a trailblazer for women in and out of politics and economics.
Dame Marilyn Waring has been a trailblazer for women in and out of politics and economics.

"I congratulate all honours recipients and thank them for their efforts. Our country is a better place because of them."

Justice Minister Andrew Little said Williams had made an immense contribution to the elevation of Māori voices in the justice system.

"This honour is well-deserved."

In other honours, television and movie production veteran John Barnett, top boardroom director Rob Campbell and former Air New Zealand board chairman Tony Carter have been made companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit for their services to their respective industries. They are joined by 13 others.

Former Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn, who was a prominent figure during the Pike River Mine tragedy, former NZRU boss Steve Tew, netballers Laura Langman and Margaret Forsyth, former Green MP Susan Kedgley, music journalist and record label founder Murray Cammick, former NZ International Film Festival director Bill Gosden, author and broadcaster Karyn Hay, Māori and Pacific journalism champion Gary Wilson and Samoan community leader Reverend Nove Vailaau are among 36 made an officer the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Parris Goebel. Photo / Doug Sherring
Parris Goebel. Photo / Doug Sherring

Long-serving victim advocate Ruth Money, choreographer Parris Goebel, swimmer Lauren Boyle, former Split Enz drummer Paul Crowther and country music singer Dennis Marsh are among the 61 people made members of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio said it was great to see Vailaau being recognised for his services to the Samoan community and Goebel for her services to dance.

"Parris is a global icon in the dance world."

- Staff reporter