New Years honours: Richie McCaw joins exclusive group, but won't be Sir Richie video

Richie McCaw, who led the All Blacks to unprecedented back-to-back Rugby World Cup wins, is likely to be the most ...
STEFAN WERMUTH/REUTERS

Richie McCaw, who led the All Blacks to unprecedented back-to-back Rugby World Cup wins, is likely to be the most popular of the 19 members of the Order of New Zealand.

As if winning successive Rugby World Cups wasn't enough, Richie McCaw has gone straight to the top of the honours board with an appointment to the Order of New Zealand (ONZ).

He joins a select group, with ordinary membership of the ONZ limited to 20 people. Membership does not carry a title so McCaw remains known to Kiwis as just Richie and not - as some had hoped - Sir Richie.

The retiring All Blacks captain turns 35 on the last day of 2015 and is the youngest person to be appointed a member of the order.

Richie McCaw's mate Dan Carter is made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
GETTY IMAGES

Richie McCaw's mate Dan Carter is made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

The previous youngest appointee was Mike Moore - former Prime Minister and World Trade Organisation director-general - who was 50 when he was made a member.

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McCaw joins such other outstanding New Zealanders in the order as opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, golfer Sir Bob Charles, and the Prime Minister's chief science advisor Professor Sir Peter Gluckman.

David Fagan, a legend in the sport of shearing, receives a knighthood.

David Fagan, a legend in the sport of shearing, receives a knighthood.

McCaw said receiving the ONZ was an incredible honour.

"To join the list of some truly great New Zealanders is exceptionally humbling."

He was pleased the ONZ did not come with a title, something he had never been comfortable with.

Jane Campion, famous for directing 'The Piano', will be known as Dame Jane.
ERIC GAILLARD

Jane Campion, famous for directing 'The Piano', will be known as Dame Jane.

Speculation had been rife that McCaw would be honoured, after Prime Minister John Key said he had been sounded out about a knighthood in 2011 but turned it down because it was not the right time.

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Other retiring All Blacks veterans also feature in the New Years Honours list for 2016.

Dan Carter is made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM), while Keven Mealamu, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith and Tony Woodcock are made members of the order (MNZM).

A sometimes controversial figure, businesswoman Paula Rebstock also becomes a Dame.
PETER MEECHAM/FAIRFAX NZ

A sometimes controversial figure, businesswoman Paula Rebstock also becomes a Dame.

Back toward the top of the list, the country has two new dames and two new knights.

Film maker Jane Campion along with company director and economist Paula Rebstock - chair of the ACC board - are made Dames Companion of The New Zealand Order of Merit (DNZM).

Supreme Court Judge Terence Arnold and shearer David Fagan are made Knight Companions of the order (KNZM).

In 1993, Campion became the first woman to win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, for The Piano. Her other work includes An Angel at My Table, adapted from author Janet Frame's three-part autobiography.

Among Rebstock's many roles, she is deputy chair of KiwiRail Holdings, and a director of Auckland Transport. She leads the expert panel on the modernisation of Child, Youth and Family, and is chair of the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman Commission.

Arnold was solicitor-general and chief executive of the Crown Law Office from 2000 to 2006. From 1986 to 1988, he was a member of the Bill or Rights monitoring group, advising the minister of justice on the establishment of the Bill of Rights.

Worldwide, Fagan has won 642 open shearing championships. He has been an individual world champion five times and a world team champion seven times. He was the first person to shear more than 800 lambs or more than 700 ewes in a nine-hour working day under world record rules.

Dame and knight companions are actually third in the order of honours seniority. Second most important are knight or dame grand companions (GNZM) but no one received that honour this time around. There can be no more than 30 GNZMs at any one time, and at the moment there are only 11. That makes it a smaller group than the 19 - including McCaw - ordinary ONZ members.

Among other honours, New York-based Xero chairman Chris Liddell is made a Companion of The New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM), while former international cricketer Stephen Boock is made an ONZM, as is prominent archaeologist Professor Charles Higham.

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