The right of future appointees to the top two levels of the New Zealand Order of Merit to use the title of ‘sir’ or ‘dame’ was removed in 2000, but reinstated in 2009. Those appointed in the period in between could choose whether or not to adopt the form of the honour carrying the title. Thirteen of the 85 eligible chose not to do so. Children’s author Joy Cowley chose to remain a distinguished companion rather than becoming a dame companion of the order because she didn‘t want people to treat her differently. Interviewed at the time, she said ‘I don’t like anything that separates me from other people – I value my ordinariness.’ (‘Knights and dames congratulated by PM’, TVNZ, http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/pm-congratulates-knights-and-dames-2881900 (last accessed 29 November 2011))
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Photograph by Terry Coles
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