The "shared bond" of Australian and New Zealand forces in East Timor was highlighted by Australian military leader Peter Cosgrove yesterday when he received the insignia of a companion of the NZ Order of Merit at Government House in Wellington.

Lieutenant-General Cosgrove was commander of the International Force in East Timor (Interfet) and was honoured along with Brigadier Martyn Dunne, of Wellington, who received the same royal honour as leader of the NZ planning team attached to the Australian Defence Force in the troubled territory.

"It's a great honour," General Cosgrove said. "We already feel partly as if we were of New Zealand citizenship because we're Anzacs. That's a shared bond.

"So I feel all New Zealand service men and women are part of Australian ownership and responsibility and it goes the other way as well.

"This great honour [the insignia] I wear on behalf of all those men and women in Australian uniform who so treasure their relationship, which is the Anzac bond."

A total of eight honours related to East Timor, including one to a civilian, were presented at yesterday's ceremony by Governor-General Sir Michael Hardie Boys.

Dr Andrew Ladley, of Lower Hutt, received the insignia of an officer of the NZ Order of Merit for his work as legal adviser to the Unamet, the United Nations body that oversaw the independence referendum in East Timor.

Among servicemen honoured, Squadron leader Logan Cudby, of Auckland, received the NZ Gallantry Decoration as leader of two unarmed UN convoys which came under fire in the former Indonesian province.

The lone servicewoman honoured was Captain Rua Pani, who with naval authorities coordinated sea transport movements around East Timor.

General Cosgrove said he personally recognised most of the service staff honoured yesterday. "My observation of their service was such that they were truly great representatives of NZ."

In other honours yesterday, Doug Kidd, Speaker of Parliament from 1996 to 1999, received the highest honour, being made a distinguished companion of the NZ Order of Merit.

Also honoured was Bob Tizard, who was made a companion of the order for public services. The former Labour Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister was in Parliament from 1957 to 1960 and 1963 to 1990.

- NZPA