Did anyone tell the Duke he was being honoured by joining the likes of Jonathan Hunt?

Would this look better on Alf than it does on Jonathan?

Alf resisted the temptation on Saturday (it was just the small whiff of a temptation) to prematurely further spread the news of Prince Philip’s appointment as an additional Member of the Order of New Zealand.

It was fit and proper that the announcement be made officially and that The Boss could tell us the appointment is as much about recognising the Queen as it is her husband.

He said the honour marked both the Queen and Prince Philip’s commitment to New Zealand and their remarkable contribution.

In Alf’s humble opinion the list of award winners is getting a bit long, for this very special honour.

But the Duke is a grand chap and thoroughly worthy.

Stuff records he has accompanied the Queen on 10 visits to this country, the first in the summer of 1953 and 1954 and the last in 2002.

He is the Field Marshal of the New Zealand Army, Admiral of the Fleet of the Royal New Zealand Navy, marshal of the Royal New Zealand Air Force and patron of more than 800 organisations, including the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

That’s ample entitlement to this particular gong and the Duke’s citation says:

“His time supporting The Queen as royal consort exceeds that of any other consort in British history.”

The Order of New Zealand, of course, is the highest honour in this country’s honours system, created “to recognise outstanding service to the Crown and people of New Zealand in a civil or military capacity”. It was instituted on 6 February 1987.

Modelled on the British Order of Merit and the Order of the Companions of Honour,[1] the order has a maximum ordinary membership of 20 and its Sovereign, though there are also “additional” and “honorary” members not counted in the numerical limit. Members are entitled to the post-nominal letters “ONZ”.

You can check out the membership at Wikipedia and ask yourself which ones should be biffed off and replaced by somebody eminently more worthy, such as – ahem – the hard-working member for Eketahuna North.

There are a few lefties on the list for starters, and lefties are somewhat apt to harbour republican sentiments.

Sir Brian Lochore is listed as an additional member, but not Colin Meads.

So what’s that all about?

Which brings us to the Rt Hon Jonathan Hunt ONZ (appointed in 31 December 2004).

Alf, of course, would never say an unkind word about Jonathan, and fondly remembers him as the Minister of Cheese and Wine. Or maybe it was Wine and Cheese.

But Jane Clifton is not so generous and early in 2005 penned these words for The Listener:

Oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them. And, without in any way meaning to diss our beloved Speaker, making Jonathan Hunt a member of the Order of New Zealand is a good way to start losing elections. That daringly solipsistic move in the New Year’s Honours was so revealing, so embarrassing, so shocking, it tells you all you need to know about where Helen Clark’s head is at. Forget her republican leanings – she’s now behaving like the Queen, and creating from among Labour and its friends a veritable aristocracy.

Jonathan has made many fine contributions to parliamentary and public life. He is a good New Zealander. But probably not even he would say that he’s a great New Zealander. What he is, is a great servant of the Labour Party.

In elevating him to that ultimate status in New Zealand public life, the government truly is lording it over the plebs. Why, if Jonathan deserves to be on that list, then the mega-reforming Margaret Wilson does too, as do Michael Cullen, Trevor Mallard, Steve Maharey. At the very least. Hell, let’s bump off some of those time-servers like Ed Hillary and get some more Labour folk on. Naturally some more exalted honour must be found for Helen herself. President’ll do at a pinch.

Just the other day Rodney Hide wrote something uncharitable, too, while discussing what a few billions dollars of budget deficit might look like.

I sat down and figured out what a billion dollars looked like. The trick was in keeping all the noughts in order. The answer shocked me. I made it part of my speech whenever talking about government spending to general audiences or explaining to visiting school children what Parliament does.

That part of my speech always went well until I got a bunch of farmers.

“Imagine a $100 bill,” I began. “Now imagine a wad of them from the bank wrapped up tight. There’s a hundred of them. That’s $10,000. Now imagine stacking wads of $100 bills one on top of another. $20,000, $30,000, that’s Jonathan Hunt’s taxi bill for a year.”

And don’t forget the times Hunt was chided by his boss for his carry-on as High Commissioner in London.

Wellington: New Zealand’s top diplomat in Britain has been told by his government to buy a raincoat after sitting out an Anzac Day service at the cenotaph in London’s Whitehall because it was raining.

Jonathan Hunt, 66, reportedly sat in his chauffer-driven limousine because he did not have a coat and umbrellas were not allowed at the Anzac Day service. He said he did not want to get wet because he was going on to a service at Westminster Abbey with the Queen.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, said she hoped Mr Hunt, who has just taken up his post, would buy a good raincoat soon “because England is noted for its pluvial conditions”.

It was the second prime ministerial rebuke for Mr Hunt, who went to London last month as New Zealand’s high commissioner after 38 years as an MP. Ms Clark earlier told him it would be “inappropriate” for him to apply for the British pension, which he was reported to be considering.

Deborah Coddington ungraciously added a bit more to the stuff about the pension.

True to form, Hunt was puzzled and offended at the fuss when he enquired about a British pension. As the late Rod Donald remarked at the time, the incident was “personally embarrassing”, given his six-figure diplomatic salary and generous parliamentary super. Gerry Brownlee said he, too, was embarrassed; the British would laugh at us for sending a “hard-up pensioner to London to be our High Commissioner”.

More pertinently, for his listing on the order to which the Duke’s name is being added, Coddington noted –

And just why Hunt so badly wanted the London posting is a mystery to those who remember him saying, back in 2001, that New Zealand should become a republic.

Enough said. The Duke might be disinclined to thank us for the honour we have bestowed on him.


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