A Major General, a Detective Inspector and an arctic soil scientist from the Waikato are among the New Year Honours 2024 recipients.
A total of 151 Kiwis received accolades this year; including at least 12 from the Waikato Herald circulation area.
The region is now home to three new Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM): Tania Te Rangingangana Simpson, of Matangi, Major General Evan Williams, of Te Aroha, and former Detective Inspector Craig Hamilton.
Simpson (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngā Puhi, Ngāi Tahu), director of Auckland International Airport, Meridian and Tainui Group Holdings, received the honour for her services to governance and Māori.
She has more than 27 years’ experience in governance encompassing a range of iwi, not-for-profit, commercial and public sector positions and throughout her career, focused on projects aimed at improving outcomes for Māori, iwi development and recognising Māori values within business.
He served the New Zealand Defence Force for 38 years, holding several command and leadership positions, and was appointed as Force Commander for the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt for over three years.
He developed trust with the senior leadership of the Egyptian Armed Forces and the Israel Defence Forces, facilitating dialogue and setting the conditions for agreement and compromise between the two parties.
Former Detective Inspector Craig Hamilton received the honour for his services to the New Zealand Police and the community.
He first joined the New Zealand Police in 1988 and took over leadership of the Waikato Proceeds of Crime Unit in 2002.
From 2009, he headed the Waikato-based Asset Recovery Unit and during his tenure, Police secured $140 million as part of an international money laundering investigation, the largest restraint of funds in New Zealand Police history.
There are two Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) from the Waikato Herald circulation area: Aaron Fleming and Bonnie Sue.
Aaron Fleming, a former Hamiltonian now living in Queenstown, was made a MNZM for his services to the community and sport.
Fleming is the Southern South Island director for the Department of Conservation and has competed in 16 lronman competitions, leading several fundraising and community initiatives in the Waikato.
He has been involved in several youth initiatives, including the Lowdown Project, a programme focused on suicide prevention in rangatahi, and has also advocated for greater awareness of environmental and sustainability issues, particularly in the Waikato region.
For seven years he was a board member of Go Eco (Waikato Environment Centre), which established Kaivolution, Hamilton’s food rescue service.
She has advocated for the health of communities in the Whanganui region for more than 25 years, particularly hapori Māori.
Sue was one of three volunteers who formed the Ngāti Rangi Community Health Centre, a Whānau Ora organisation, supporting residents in the Waimarino, Ōhakune, Raetihi and Waiōuru areas, providing free services, health information and kaupapa Māori mental health and addiction services.
Te Awamutu local Dr Megan Balks has been awarded the New Zealand Antarctic Medal (NZAM) for her services to Antarctic soil science.
In her early days as a soil scientist, she almost turned down the opportunity to work in the Antarctic as she was sceptical that there was even soil to study on the frozen continent.
But after 19 trips to Antarctica, she quickly accepted that there is soil in Antarctica, although the processes that create soil are very slow.
Her research centers around permafrost and human environmental impacts in Antarctica.
There are six new Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) recipients from the Waikato Herald circulation area: Peter Carr, of Cambridge, Te Ao Marama Maaka, of Morrinsville, Desmond Meads, of Hamilton, Michael Miller, of Whangamatā, Bruce Nairn, of Tokoroa, and Karen Ngatai, of Taumarunui.
Peter Carr, former Fieldays Society president and Justice of the Peace, received the QSM for his services to the community.
He was also chairman of the New Zealand National Fieldays Society between 2016 and 2019 and served as President of the Retirement Villages Residents of New Zealand between 2020 and 2022.
Carr became a JP in 1973 and has been serving communities in Khandallah in Wellington, Auckland and Cambridge.
He was a member of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron from 1981 to 2007, serving as Chair of the Race Committee and Course Marshall during the 2000 and 2003 America’s Cup Race.
Te Ao Marama Maaka (Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Wairere a Ngāi te Rangi), was awarded the QSM for her services to the community.
She is a senior Kuia of Ngāti Hāua and as Ngāti Hauā Cultural Advisor she provides support to councils, organisations and schools on working with iwi.
Maaka has a longstanding relationship with Morrinsville College having first been elected to the college’s board of govenors in 1987 and serving on the board until 2001.
Desmond Meads received the QSM for his services to hockey and the community.
He has been contributing to the Waikato Hockey Association for 48 years where he helped amalgamate the separate Waikato women’s and men’s hockey groups into the Waikato Hockey Association in 1989.
He led fundraising efforts to turn the WHA into a world-class facility, successfully raising $2.5 million in the early 1990s, which included the region’s first synthetic field.
He has been an advocate for improved health outcomes for patients living in rural communities, after coming to New Zealand 33 years ago.
He qualified in medicine from Middlesex Hospital in the UK and spent six years in the Royal Air Force.
After he arrived in New Zealand, Miller acquired Whangamatā Medical Centre and developed it into the town’s first purpose-built medical facility, which opened in 1995.
Bruce Nairn has been awarded the QSM for his services to the community and sport after setting a target to volunteer 10 per cent of his working week more than 50 years ago.
He was secretary of the Log Transport Safety Council and secretary and president of the Tokoroa Axemen and Bushcraft Association – despite having never competed in the sport.
His role as trustee of the South Waikato Sports and Leisure Board led to the highlight of his career as he worked to open the South Waikato Sports and Events Centre in 2016.
Karen Ngatai, a former Ruapehu District Councillor and deputy mayor, received the QSM for her services to the community.
She has been the Taumarunui coordinator for the Pink Ribbon Street Appeal for 12 years and chaired the Waikato Community Heated Pool Trust from 2006 to 2016, gaining annual funding from Trust Waikato and negotiating cheaper power rates.
In 2019 she was a leading team member that organised the week-long festival for Matariki, now an integral Taumarunui winter event. Most recently, Ngatai engaged a master carver to carve 10 native birds from native trees, now installed in the town centre gardens.
Waikato New Year Honours 2024 recipients
● Tania Te Rangingangana Simpson, ONZM for services to governance and Māori (Matangi)
● Major General Evan Williams, ONZM for services to the New Zealand Defence Force (Te Aroha)
● Detective Inspector Craig Hamilton, ONZM for services to the New Zealand Police and the community (Waikato Police District)
● Aaron Fleming, MNZM for services to the community and sport (Hamilton)
● Bonnie Sue, MNZM for services to health and Māori (Ohakune)
● Ian Carr, QSM for services to the community (Cambridge)
● Te Ao Marama Maaka, QSM for services to the community (Morrinsville)
● Desmond Meads, QSM for services to hockey and the community (Hamilton)
● Dr Michael Miller, QSM for services to rural health (Whangamatā)
● Bruce Nairn, QSM for services to the community and sport (Tokoroa)
● Karen Ngatai, QSM for services to the community (Taumarunui)
● Dr Megan Balks, NZAM for services to Arctic soil science (Te Awamutu)
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Danielle Zollickhofer is a multimedia journalist based in Hamilton. She joined NZME in 2021 and is writing for the Waikato Herald.