New Year Honours: Dr Ashley Bloomfield knighted

Dr Ashley Bloomfiled has been knighted in the New Year Honours list
Dr Ashley Bloomfiled has been knighted in the New Year Honours list Photo credit: Newshub

The health boss who led the country's pandemic response and an acting coach who has worked with some of the world's best are among recipients of the country's top honours.

Ashley Bloomfield who is being recognised for his services to public health is one of three knights appointed.

He's joined by philanthropist Mark Dunajtschik who funded the Wellington children's hospital Te Wao Nui and Māori educator, former broadcaster and poet Haare Williams for services to Māori, literature and education.

Commenting on the honour, Sir Ashley told RNZ the work he was most proud of was the wide coverage of the Covid-19 vaccination programme and helping to implement an elimination approach during the pandemic, something few other countries managed to do.

He said while the job had its tough parts, he was thankful to work in a country with a strong public service, alongside people who wanted to do the right thing to look after each other.

Miranda Harcourt, Farah Palmer and Janice Wright have been made dames.

Acting coach and director Miranda Harcourt was appointed a dame in recognition of her services to the screen industry and theatre, both in Aotearoa and overseas.

Those she has worked with have been nominated for and won BAFTAs, Golden Globes, Emmys and Academy Awards.

She has used her skills as a drama therapist in prisons, and alongside her husband Stuart McKenzie, she toured a solo show called Verbatim, which she performed in schools, theatres and prisons.

Dame Miranda said creating stories was at the core of human existence and had the capacity to create change in people's lives.

Pioneer Māori broadcaster Dr Haare Williams who is also a teacher, author and poet is passionate about education and has long championed the use of te reo.

His 2019 book Words of a Kaumātua touched on his childhood and the issues stemming from inequality in Aotearoa.

Sir Haare co-founded the New Zealand Māori Artists and Writers Association and is kaumātua of the Kotahi Rau Pukapuka intitiative, which aims to produce 100 great books in te reo Māori.

Property developer Mark Dunajtschik has contributed to many philanthropic causes and charities for more than 40 years.

He helped to found the city's first helicopter rescue service in the mid-1970s and has also pledged up to $60 million to replace Te Whare Ahura Mental Health Centre in the Hutt Valley alongside $53m spent building the new children's hospital for the Capital and Coast District Health Board.

Sir Mark said he loves Wellington - his home of 64 years - and his intention was to leave his money in the city where he made it.

Former Parliamentary commissioner for the environment Dr Jan Wright has been appointed a dame for services to the state and the environment.

Dame Jan built a reputation for her methodical approach, robust independent advice, and as a skilful public communicator during the 10 years she spent in the role.

Dame Jan said a desire to have an impact on what was happening in her home country led her into public policy.

She told RNZ she was proud of the body of work she and her hardworking staff had achieved.

Rounding out the list is former World Cup winning Black Fern Dr Farah Palmer who has been made a dame for services to rugby.

Palmer (Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato) won three World Cup crowns during her playing career.

Born in Te Kūiti and raised in Piopio, Dame Farah, of Ngāti Maniapoto, was the first woman elected to the New Zealand Rugby board and is the first wāhine Māori deputy chair.

She also works with Sport New Zealand and is a lecturer at Massey University.