Jenny Bornholdt and Gregory O'Brien receive honours

SIOBHAN DOWNES
Last updated 16:20 18/03/2014
Jenny Bornholdt and Gregory O'Brien

HONOURED: Wellington poets Jenny Bornholdt and Gregory O'Brien

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They share a love of words, and now Wellington poets Jenny Bornholdt and Gregory O'Brien have shared the stage at today's honours investiture ceremony in Wellington.

The couple officially became members of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to poetry and the arts at Government House.

Bornholdt and O'Brien, who are married, received their honours together from Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae.

"It was really lovely to be able to receive it together," Bornholdt said.

"I suppose our working lives are joined, so it's nice to have that recognised too."

O'Brien was clad in a special jacket and shirt featuring words from his own poems, created by Auckland designer Doris de Pont.

He said the honours they received were connected to the wider arts and writing communities.

"We are our own team but we're part of a bigger team which is all the people doing what we're doing, which probably isn't the most conventional way to spend your life," he said.

"It's great to see the arts sitting there with these things that society needs and cares about and acknowledges."

Bornholdt, a former poet laureate, has written nine acclaimed collections of poetry, and worked to promote New Zealand writing overseas.

O'Brien won the Prime Minister's Award for literary achievement and Arts Foundation laureate award in 2012, and has published nine collections of poems and drawings, and written two books on art for young people.

The pair worked together on the Oxford Anthology of New Zealand Poetry and the anthology My Heart Goes Swimming: New Zealand Love Poems in the 1990s.

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