Some of my favourite annual stories come from the New Year's and Queen's Birthday honours.

Every year, twice a year, our newsroom is provided with a full list of recipients and it is our job to go through the pages and pages of esteemed Kiwis, pulling out any local names to be featured in our newspaper and on our website.

I love it because, in a time when so much of social media and the news is dominated by bad people doing horrible things, the list reminds me there are countless everyday Kiwis doing extraordinary things for the betterment of those around them.

Rotorua is full of said Kiwis and it is always touching to hear how genuinely surprised and humbled they are to be recognised at this level.


This year's Queen's Birthday Honours have gone to five outstanding locals for a range of contributions on the local and national stage.

Rotorua's Leith Comer has been made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for his services to Māori, the state and local government, while local woman Timua Brennan has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her contributions to music and Māori.

Dog handler and Senior Constable Phillip (Tiny) Taylor has become a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the New Zealand Police and the community, while conservationist couple Margaret and Stuart Slade will receive Queen's Service Medals for their unwavering conservation work.

These five follow the last group of locals to be recognised in the New Year's Honours and ultimately precede the next group to be named at the beginning of 2019.

All have been worthy and - although none of them seems to believe it - they are more than deserving of the honour.

The contributions of these people have without doubt made our community better and it is their selfless commitment that will hopefully inspire the next generation to make a difference in the world.