A tearful Dame Valerie Adams has revealed she visited her mother's gravesite to share the emotional news of her damehood with her greatest inspiration.

The 32-year-old Kiwi sporting hero - who added a silver medal at the Rio Olympics in August to her previous back-to-back Olympic golds - has been made a Dame in today's New Year's Honours List.

She becomes New Zealand's youngest dame, a distinction previously held by former world squash champion Dame Susan Devoy who was 34 when she received the honour in 1998.

β€’ New Year Honours: The complete list
β€’ New Year Honours: Valerie Adams becomes NZ's youngest Dame
β€’ Val: Dame with a golden heart


Along with the sporting sensation, former MP and Wellington mayor Fran Wilde has been made a dame. Long-time St Joseph's Maori Girls' College Georgina Kingi principal has also been awarded the honour for services to Maori and education.

Four new sirs have also been knighted in the New Year's Honours List; distinguished professor Sir Richard Faull for services to medical research, Sir Brian Roche for services to state and business, Sir David Williams for services to international law and international arbitration and Niue Premier Sir Toke Talagi for services to the island nation.

In an emotional interview with the Weekend Herald, Dame Valerie also revealed she and husband, Gabriel Price, are trying for a baby.

Upon learning of the honour just a week ago Price was first to hear the news before Dame Valerie visited the grave of her mother, Lilika, who died in 2000.

Lilika - who is buried at the Manukau Memorial Gardens - died when the future golden girl of New Zealand athletics was just 15.

The teen had famously promised her mother on her death bed that she would make the most of her God-given talents.

The world champion shot putter has more than exceeded that goal and is now one of the country's most loved and revered athletes.

"It would have been awesome to have her here," a teary Dame Valerie told the Weekend Herald.


"Just yesterday I was out there telling her about it. She would have really enjoyed it [the upcoming investiture at Government House]. I can just imagine what she would have been doing to make my clothes to wear with all the Tongan outfits.

Valerie Adams holds her Silver medal during a medal ceremony for the Women's Shot Put in Olympic Stadium at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo / Photosport
Valerie Adams holds her Silver medal during a medal ceremony for the Women's Shot Put in Olympic Stadium at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo / Photosport

"She would have been saying; 'You're going to wear this mat, this, that and the other'.

"That was the type of mother she was. She wanted us to not only be proud Kiwis, but proud Tongans and I'll always be grateful for that."

Dame Valerie Adams........πŸ‡³πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡³πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡³πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡³πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡³πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡³πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡³πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡³πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡³πŸ‡Ώ I'm very humbled and honoured to receive this award. I have been blessed...

Posted by Valerie Adams on Friday, 30 December 2016

Dame Valerie said she learned of her damehood via letter "about a week ago".

"It was a very exciting day for me. I was running around the house and I needed to tell somebody even though they said I couldn't. So I told my husband and it was awesome for us to celebrate that moment in secret."

Dame Valerie said she and Price were trying for a baby ahead of the 2018 Commonweath Games on the Gold Coast.

The pair married earlier this year.

If Dame Valerie competes on the Gold Coast she will be seeking a fourth successive Commonweath Games gold medal.

"Absolutely, pre-Commonwealth Games .... I'm up for the challenge," she confirmed when asked about her hopes for a baby.

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson

While reaffirming a fifth Olympic Games in Japan two years after that is still a possibility, Adams admitted she is increasingly thinking about life after athletics including motherhood and the future focus of her life.

Since receiving her news of a damehood, Dame Valerie said she had been reflecting on her career and life, describing it as "an amazing journey".

"There is life on the field but also off it," she said.

"I know I'll be asked how this honour compares to winning an Olympic gold medal (but) you can't really compare this with anything else.

"And it's not about me as an athlete with big muscles but it's the value of the person on and off the field. For me that's the most amazing part of this."

Dame Valerie admitted to being overwhelmed by finding herself at the forefront of the New Year's Honours List, describing the experience as "surreal".

She joked she was unsure if the honour would bring any special privileges from family and friends and said she doubted younger brother Steven Adams, an NBA star for the Oklahoma Thunder, would be addressing her as "Dame Valerie" the next time they spoke.

And - despite running second to former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw in a Herald poll taken when John Key stood down on which well-known New Zealand figure the public would like to see lead the Government - Dame Valerie laughingly dismissed any political ambitions.

She said she is too much of a straight shooter and wouldn't be able to "grease up to people like a politician has to". But she didn't rule out pursuing a role in sports administration.