The father of Alliance cabinet minister Laila Harre, social anthropologist and educator John Harre, has been made a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Other politically connected recipients of the high honour include former Labour education minister Russell Marshall, for his public service since leaving politics in 1990 in education and in non-government organisations such as Unesco.

Long-serving Labour supporter Jill Amos has also been recognised for her services to the community, among them helping to set up the Aids Foundation.


Acting Prime Minister and Alliance leader Jim Anderton, who sits on the cabinet's honours and appointments committee, said honours directly reflected the values of the Government recommending them to the Queen.

The decisions were made on merit, he said, "but of course the merit is in the eye of the beholder."

"This Government values community contributions and is trying to get away from the 'successful businessman' format."

He said Laila Harre had nothing to do with her father's nomination and might not have known about it.

Dr Harre, one of the founders of the polytechnic movement, had unanimous support and everyone on the committee was surprised that he had not been honoured before, said Mr Anderton. Mr Marshall's honour was not "an old boy-MP" thing - it was for continual service in non-government organisations.

The award to Dr Harre, of Titirangi, Auckland, is for his services to education, as a teacher and academic in New Zealand and Fiji.

He was formerly dean of arts at the Auckland Institute of Technology, and director of the Fiji Institute of Technology from 1995 to 1997.

His academic research has included work on Maori-Pakeha mixed marriages and urbanisation in Fiji.

Mr Marshall is Chancellor of Victoria University, and was appointed this month to chair the Government's Tertiary Education Advisory Commission. He also chairs the National Commission for Unesco and the Cambodia Trust.

He is a past chairman of the South Africa Information Centre and a member of the Nelson Mandela Trust.

Mrs Amos, with a background in teaching and guidance counselling, is a former Manukau city councillor and Auckland regional councillor. She was a United Nations observer at the South African elections in 1994.