Phil Keoghan joins Order of Merit

SIOBHAN DOWNES
Last updated 14:31 18/03/2014
 Phil Keoghan
HONOURED: Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan has become a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

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He's been all over the world but there's still no place quite like home for Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan.

He was in Wellington today to officially become a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit at an investiture ceremony at Government House.

Keoghan, a Cantabrian by birth who now lives in Los Angeles, was honoured for his services as a television presenter and to tourism.

His show, The Amazing Race has, has won nine Primetime Emmy Awards.

However, Keoghan said his latest honour felt "more personal" than any of those wins.

"I've got my family here, and I'm at home," he said.

"But it's also being part of that group of people who are doing extraordinary things."

Keoghan, who was in New Zealand for the New Zealand Open this month, said he tried to find "any excuse" to come home, and the ceremony was a "good one".

Among other charitable ventures, Keoghan was recognised for his work mobilising international support for his home province after the Canterbury earthquakes.

After the February 22 quake that wrecked large parts of Christchurch, he immediately flew to New Zealand to film the devastation, and later worked to boost tourism to the area.

He did the same after the Rena oil spill, lending a hand to the cleanup to draw global attention to the disaster.

Keoghan said Kiwis were "blessed" to have such a beautiful country, but from a tourism point of view, its real selling point was its people

"It's being able to go to a local pub over in the West Coast and share a beer with somebody, or eat some whitebait fritters - do something distinctly New Zealand and experience the hospitality," he said.

"I always tell people, what you'll find about New Zealanders is that they will welcome you, and that's really ultimately what separates one place from another."

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