Wellington Scoop

Birthday Honours for Karen Poutasi, Elizabeth Knox, Mike Bush and John Nacey

Dr Karen Poutasi CNZM of Paraparamumu has been made a Dame in today’s Queens Birthday Honours, for her services to education and the State. Among other honours announced in today’s list, three Wellingtonians become Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit: author Elizabeth Knox, former police commissioner Mike Bush, and Professor John Nacey who is a former Dean of the Wellington School of Medicine.

Dr Poutasi has been Chief Executive of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) since 2006. After spending 30 years in the health sector, she joined the education sector at a time when there were public concerns around the implementation of NZQA’s school qualifications framework. In her time as Chief Executive, public confidence in NZQA has increased, as has performance in school qualifications assessment. NZQA also quality assures the non-university tertiary education sector and administers the Codes of Pastoral Care. She is currently Commissioner of the Waikato District Health Board. She is also Deputy Chair of the Crown-owned company Network for Learning and chairs the New Zealand Appointment Committee for Harkness Fellowships awarded by the Commonwealth Fund of New York. She was a panel member of the Havelock North Drinking Water Inquiry from 2016 to 2017. She is a member of Global Women New Zealand and has been Chair of Basketball New Zealand. From 2007 to 2011 Dr Poutasi volunteered on the Board of Presbyterian Support Central.

There are another two Dames in the honours list:

Distinguished Professor Jane Elizabeth Harding, ONZM, of Auckland. For services to neonatology and perinatology, and Mrs Aroha Hohipera Reriti-Crofts, CBE, JP, of Christchurch. For services to Māori and the community.

Elizabeth Knox, named as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, continues to write critically acclaimed books, winning both national and international awards for her novels and literary collections. Since 2002 she has written several novels, including her first young adult series, ‘The Dreamhunter Duet’. The first book in the series, ‘Dreamhunter’, won the 2006 Esther Glen Award and the 2007 ALA Best Books for Young Adults award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and was awarded a ‘White Raven’ by the International Youth Library in 2006. The sequel ‘Dreamquake’ (2007) was a Michael L Printz Honour book and was named an ALA, a CCBC, Booklist, and New York Library best book in 2008. Her collection of personal essays titled ‘The Love School’ won the biography section of the New Zealand Book Awards in 2009. Her 2013 book ‘Mortal Fire’ won the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Award for Young Adult Fiction and was a finalist in the Los Angeles Times Book Awards. Most recently in 2019 she published ‘The Absolute Book’ and was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement. Ms Knox teaches a World Building workshop for fiction at Victoria University of Wellington.

Mike Bush, who becomes a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, began his career with the New Zealand Police in 1978, holding numerous roles in New Zealand and overseas, and was Commissioner of Police from 2014 until April this year. He spearheaded a new framework focused on high performance standards and worked to create a more respectful and inclusive culture, incorporating empathy and diversity into the core values of the Police. He oversaw the launch of a strategy in 2015 supporting how Police work with ethnic communities and has driven work to improve female representation at all levels of Police. He began working on the Prevention First operating model as Deputy Commissioner Operations from 2011 and continued this transformation as Commissioner. Prevention First contributed to a 20 percent drop in crime between 2010 and 2014, while lifting New Zealander’s confidence in Police. He has promoted strategies to address Māori overrepresentation in the justice system, including Police’s refreshed Māori strategy Te Huringa o Te Tai. He has led the Police response to major natural disasters including the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake, major fires in Canterbury and Nelson, and flooding in Edgecumbe. He led the Police response to the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings, the most extensive operation in New Zealand Police’s history. Mr Bush has collaborated with other Chiefs of Police within the Pacific to share knowledge and taken the lead with Asian nations on joint trans-national crime investigations.

Professor John Nacey, who has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, was appointed to the New Zealand Medical Council in 2010 and was elected Chair of the Education Committee. In this position he led the development and implementation of significant changes to prevocational medical training in New Zealand and chaired seven separate Accreditation Committees to assist the New Zealand District Health Boards reach new standards. He was appointed Chair of the New Zealand Task Force on Prostate Cancer in 2012 and subsequently became Chair of the Prostate Cancer Awareness and Quality Improvement Programme to implement the recommendations of the Task Force. During his time as a lecturer at the University of Otago, he chaired the Faculty Curriculum Committee and oversaw the committee’s implementation of structural changes to the oversight and delivery of medical education and the modernisation of the curriculum in the late 1990s. He was Dean of the Wellington School of Medicine for 10 years and supervised a major building programme to improve the school’s teaching and research facilities. In 2001 he oversaw the opening of the School of Radiation Therapy on the University of Otago Wellington Campus. He has been one of the leaders of the Wellington Prostate Brachytherapy Group since 2001. Professor Nacey chaired reviews of the New Zealand Cancer Registry in 2010 and 2013.

Among the other honours, three Wellingtonians become Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit: Taika Waititi (who is now living in Los Angeles) for his services to film, Dr Brian Thomas Pauling, for services to broadcasting and education, and David Zwartz, for services to the Jewish and interfaith communities.

And two Wellingtonians are among those who become Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit: Georgina Beyer, JP, for services to LGBTIQA+ rights, and Marianne Bishop, for services to the union movement and the community.

The complete Honours List.