New Zealand Confers Royal Honours and Bravery Awards in US
NZ Ambassador to the United States, Rt Hon Mike Moore, hosted an investiture ceremony in May 2012 where a number of U.S. citizens and New Zealanders received the New Zealand government’s Royal Honors: the Order of Merit, Bravery Award, and Special Service Medal.
The Order of Merit is one of New Zealand’s highest honors. It was established in 1996 “for those persons who in any field of endeavor, have rendered meritorious service to the Crown and nation or who have become distinguished by their eminence, talents, contributions or other merits.” The number of new appointments is limited.
New Zealand’s Bravery Awards recognize the actions of those who save or attempt to save the life of another person, during which they place their own safety at risk.
During a ceremony at the New Zealand Embassy in Washington, DC, Ambassador Moore presented the following Order of Merit and Bravery Awards:
• Peter Stuart Watson – appointed as an Ordinary Companion of New Zealand Order of Merit, announced on the New Year 2012 Honours List, for services to New Zealand – USA relations. Dr. Watson has continued to promote New Zealand – United States relations and established the American Friends of Christchurch to raise funds to support the recovery in Christchurch following the February 2011 earthquake.
• John Henry Whitehead – appointed as an Ordinary Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, announced on the Queen’s Birthday 2011 Honours List, for services as Secretary to the Treasury. Mr. Whitehead became Secretary to the New Zealand Treasury in 2003, after holding a number of senior positions in the agency. During the 1990s, he was the key Treasury official working on the Fiscal Responsibility Act and effectively led the Treasury through the global recession. He is a globally-recognized economic advisor, and was recently appointed Executive Director of the World Bank.
• Richard Lee Armitage – appointed as an Honorary Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, announced on the Queen’s Birthday 2011 Honours List, for services to New Zealand – USA relations. Mr. Armitage, who served as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State from 2004 to 2005, has had a positive influence on the New Zealand – United States relationship through his championing of closer military ties and work for a productive trade relationship. He has supported the New Zealand Defense Force’s contributions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he has been an advocate for a New Zealand – United States free trade agreement.
• Constance Ellen Lawn – appointed as an Honorary Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, announced on the New Year 2012 Honours List, for services to New Zealand – USA relations. Ms. Lawn was the Radio New Zealand National Washington Correspondent for more than 20 years. She has promoted New Zealand tourism and snow skiing through the many articles she has written about New Zealand’s ski fields.
• Clayton Keith Yeutter – appointed as an Honorary Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, announced on the New Year 2012 Honours List, for services to New Zealand – USA relations. Ambassador Yeutter has served two United States Presidents in the areas of agriculture and trade, and is currently involved in international commerce and finance. Through these roles, he has helped to promote New Zealand interests for over 20 years.
• James Clovis Clad – appointed as an Ordinary Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, announced on the Queen’s Birthday 2011 Honours List, for services to New Zealand – USA relations. Mr. Clad was a New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade diplomat in the 1970s and 1980s. He has helped to revise and restore the defense relationship between New Zealand and the United States on the basis of mutual interests.
• Scott Ronald Dixon – appointed as an Ordinary Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, announced on the New Year 2009 Honours List, for services to motorsport. Mr. Dixon has been involved with motorsport for over 25 years. He was the first New Zealand driver to win the Indianapolis 500 in 2008 and was the 18th driver to record a “lights-to-flag” victory. He also has won the IndyCar 17-race Series Championship in 2003 and 2008.
• Maurice Ugo Conti and Sophie Conti – awarded an Honorary New Zealand Bravery Medal for bravery, announced on the 2011 New Zealand Bravery Awards List. On October 12, 2008, Maurice and Sophie Conti rescued three civilian sailors off the coast of Suva after picking up a “Mayday” call for help.
New Zealand’s Special Service Medal (Erebus) was instituted in November 2006 to recognize those New Zealanders and citizens of other countries, who were involved with recovery and investigation of the Air New Zealand crash at Mount Erebus, Antarctica in November 1979. The operation was called “Operation Overdue.” All 257 passengers and crew perished in the crash.
Ambassador Moore awarded the Special Service Medal (Erebus) to the following individuals:
• Commander David A. Srite, US Navy (Retired) – As Commanding Officer of VXE-6 Squadron, Commander Srite happened to be the navigator on a South Pole flight on the 28th of November 1979 that was diverted to find the downed Air New Zealand flight. His navigation was a key element in locating the Air New Zealand wreckage.
• Commander Chaplain Lee S. Clark, US Navy (Retired) – Chaplain Clark was posted as Chaplain to the US Naval Support Force, Operation Deep Freeze based in Williams Field on December 1 – 12, 1979. He was posted as a member of the remains handling team to provide pastoral support and voluntarily attached himself as the assistant to the Base Medical Officer, who examined the remains as they were heli-lifted into the base. Together with the Medical Officer, they handled 209 bodies and over 100 partial remains.
• Lieutenant Commander Edward Klonoski, US Navy (Retired) – As the co-pilot on a South Pole flight on November 28, 1979, his aircraft was responsible for locating the Air New Zealand wreckage. His role as co-pilot included maintaining radio communications with his base and reporting on each pass over the crash site.
• Lieutenant Commander John Williamson, US Navy (Retired) – As a pilot in the VXE6, Sqn Cdr Williamson flew many recovery missions from the crash site and Williams Field in support of Operation Overdue.
The Special Service Medal (Erebus) is the third NZSSM created to recognize service in extreme and hazardous circumstances. The first NZSSM, the NZSSM (Nuclear Testing), recognized those individuals who were part of an official New Zealand Government presence at atmospheric nuclear tests between 1956 and 1973. The second NZSSM, the NZSSM (Asian Tsunami), recognized New Zealanders who were involved in rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas devastated by the earthquake off the coast of Sumatra and the resulting tsunami in December 2004.