Honours givens to Sir John Kirwan, rowers

SIMON DAY
Last updated 17:16 08/05/2013
Sir John Kirwan
JOHN SELKIRK/FAIRFAX NZ

Sir John Kirwan has to drive around in the Blues Fiat Bambina 500 after being fined by the team.

Eric Murray
JOHN SELKIRK/FAIRFAX NZ
RECOGNITION: Eric Murray and Governor General, Sir Jerry Mateparae.
Jerry Mateparae
JOHN SELKIRK/FAIRFAX NZ
PROUD DAY: Hamish Bond and Sir Jerry Mateparae.
John Kirwan
JOHN SELKIRK/FAIRFAX
ARISE SIR JOHN: Sir John Kirwan is knighted for services to rugby and mental health.

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Just because he's a knight doesn't mean he's above the law. 

Sir John Kirwan was officially knighted today, but was forced to arrive at the ceremony in a less than regal ride.

The Blues coach was fined by his team for 'losing it' at halftime during last Friday's clash against the Stormers. As punishment for the week he must drive around in the team's beat-up yellow Fiat Bambina 500.

While his ride may have looked a little out of place at Government House in Auckland today, Kirwan was right at home at the investiture ceremony in the company of other top performing Kiwis, such as Olympic gold medalists Hamish Bond and Eric Murray.

Kirwan received the highest honour, knighted for his services to rugby and mental health, where he has led the campaign for increased awareness for those suffering from depression.

"I'm accepting this for all the people that are sick, or have been sick or might get sick to show them that depression is an illness not a weakness. To give people hope that is why I am here," Kirwan said.

Playing the sport he loved, Kirwan's contribution to rugby, where he played for the All Blacks and has coached Japan, the British Barbarians and now the Blues, came easily.

"I said to my sons I've never really worked, I just love it. I have a dream job in my hometown so it doesn't get better than that," he said.

Kirwan hopes the recognition can continue to help people get through mental illness.

"There is still heaps to do. One suicide is too many. We need to keep working on depression awareness and make people understand that you can get help and get through it," he said.

Gold medal winners Bond and Murray, recognised for their services to rowing, said they never believed the sport could have taken them this far.

"Goals just get changed along the way. When I was at school thinking maybe I would be able to make the New Zealand team, never having any ambition of winning Olympic gold medals. New horizons become a reality after a while," Bond said.

Their contribution to the sport are far from over, said Murray.

"I'm a spring chicken I could go through till I am 40, I'm only 31 now, I could do another two Olympics. I don't know if my wife will let me," he said.

Presenting the honours, Governor General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, said it was his most important job.

"We have all been privileged to hear your stories. You have enriched the social fabric of New Zealand," he said.

The three investiture ceremonies at Government House in Auckland over the next two days will recognise more than 40 people for their services to the country.

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Other honour recipients at today's ceremony were Graham Lowe for his services to the community, Nathan Cohen for his services to rowing and Dr Hon Wayne Mapp for services as an MP.

- Fairfax Media

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