Lange joins top 20 kiwis
2 June 2003 Dominion Post

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Former prime minister David Lange and distinguished scientist Dr William Pickering joined the elite list of members of the Order of New Zealand in the Queen's Birthday Honours announced today.

As prime minister from 1984 to 1989, Mr Lange presided over far-reaching economic reforms that changed the face of New Zealand. His government also introduced New Zealand's anti-nuclear policy.

Only 20 people are admitted to the Order of New Zealand at any time and Mr Lange becomes the 19th member, joining Sir Edmund Hillary, former governor-general Dame Catherine Tizard and former prime ministers Jim Bolger and Mike Moore.

Mr Lange, a former lawyer, was elected to Parliament in 1977, becoming New Zealand's youngest prime minister at the age of 41.

He was celebrating his honour quietly yesterday, because he was bedridden with a fever.

He was diagnosed last year with an incurable blood disease, amyloidosis, and told he might have only four months to live a deadline he passed several months ago.

However, in spite of his illness, he has retained his legendary wit, joking that his award was indicative of the "rehabilitation of time".

"It's part of that balm that descends on you as you advance through the years."

He said the award was a great honour, though unexpected. "I thought my time was long gone".

Joining Mr Lange at the head of the honours list, Dr Pickering, 92, becomes an honorary member of the Order of New Zealand.

Born in Wellington and educated at Canterbury College (now University), his award is in the honorary category because he is now an American citizen.

He moved to the United States in 1929, eventually becoming responsible for the United States' first satellite, and leading its unmanned deep space research as director from 1954 till 1976 of California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Under Dr Pickering's leadership, the laboratory helped develop ballistic missiles with the capacity to deliver nuclear warheads around the globe. He has received many international awards for his work, including an honorary knighthood. He was in New Zealand in March to unveil a monument in Havelock, near Blenheim, that honours him and atomic physicist Lord Rutherford, and to receive an honorary doctorate from Canterbury University.

Four people were made Distinguished Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit: Masterton artist Robin White, Dunedin stockbroker Eion Edgar, women's affairs campaigner Alison Roxburgh and Maori leader Archie Taiaroa.

Other high profile New Zealanders to receive honours include playwright Roger Hall and TV personality Paul Holmes, both appointed Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit, film producer John Barnett, jazz band leader Rodger Fox and opera singer Patrick Power, all Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Jim McLay, who was briefly deputy prime minister in 1984 and served as New Zealand commissioner to the International Whaling Commission for the past nine years, is made a CNZM for his services to conservation.

Former Council of Trade Unions secretary Angela Foulkes is made an ONZM.

Sports people recognised include Marise Chamberlain, the 800m track bronze medalist at the 1964 Olympics, Manfeild motor-racing promoter Rob Lester and former Silver Ferns netball players Julie Seymour and Linda Vagana, who are all made Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Frenchman Bruno Trouble, who managed the America's Cup challenger series in Auckland, is made an Honorary ONZM.

Additional Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit appointments for military operational service go to Commander John Martin, commander of Te Kaha for eight months in the Arabian Sea for Operation Enduring Freedom, and Lieutenant Colonel Antony Hayward and Lieutenant Colonel Dean Baigent, who respectively commanded the last two detachments of New Zealand peacekeepers in East Timor.