How do you become a Sir in New Zealand

You may or may not know that prior to 1996, New Zealanders received appointments to various British orders, such as the Order of the Bath, the Order of St Michael, the Order of the Companions of Honour along with the Order of the British Empire.

Significant changes came about after the Prime Minister’s Honours Advisory Committee was created “to consider and present options and suggestions on the structure of a New Zealand Royal Honours System in New Zealand, which is designed to recognise meritorious service, gallantry and bravery and long service

What New Zealanders eventually decided on after the 1996 debate was a halfway measure. The British orders – OBE, MBE and CBE – were scrapped along with British State Orders of Chivalry, such as the Order of the Bath and the Order of St Michael and St George.

Any citizen can nominate someone for a New Zealand honour (except themselves) by completing the nomination form and sending it to the Honours Unit, Cabinet Office, in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 

Nominations are then carefully considered by a cabinet committee comprising a group of ministers of the crown chaired by the prime minister. Between 1,400 and 1,800 nominations are made each year, from which roughly 400 honours are granted.

Successful nominees are contacted by the official secretary to the governor-general and respectfully asked if they would be prepared to accept an honour. This process is called ‘sounding’. Lists are then published of those people who have accepted the honour offered and they will attend a ceremony, after which they can be known as Sir.

Announcement of honours

New Zealand royal honours are announced regularly twice a year: at New Year, and on the official observance of the Queen’s birthday in June. Sometimes additional ‘special honours lists’ are published. 

Honours lists are gazetted (formally published) in the New Zealand Gazette.

Use our vast experience to help you through the process of nomination for your chosen person to be honoured.

Our expertise in the field enables us to find the facts or look at the angles which might make the difference to a New Zealand honour nomination.

Take the first steps to helping someone who thoroughly deserves to be nominated to become a Sir.