Download The Wellington App for more stories like this.

Three Wellington women named Dames Companion of the New Zealand order of Merit

The New Year honours list released this morning names three Wellington women as new Dames Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.


Wellington’s new dames are:

former mayor Dame Kerry Prendergast, honoured for services to governance and the community;

Photo: Dame Kerry Prendergast

film-maker Dame Gaylene Preston, for services to film;

Photo: Dame Gaylene Preston


former retirement commissioner Dame Diana Crossan, for services to the state.

Photo: Dame Diana Crossan

The fourth Dame in today’s list is Distinguished Professor Dame Margaret Brimble of Auckland. For services to science.

Dame Kerry Prendergast ended three terms as Mayor of Wellington in 2010 and has since made significant contributions in a range of other positions. She chaired Tourism New Zealand for seven years through a period of unprecedented growth. She chaired the establishment board that set up the Environmental Protection Authority in 2011, completing her term as Chair in September 2018. She is Chair of the New Zealand Film Commission and the New Zealand Conservation Authority. She was Executive Chair of the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts and the Wellington Jazz Music Festival Trust, until she retired in 2016 after 24 years on the Trust.

She is a Director of Compass Health and Oceania Healthcare Limited, and Deputy Chair of Wellington Free Ambulance. She is a Trustee of the Victoria University Foundation, New Zealand Community Trust and the National Women’s Health Research Centre, and an Advisory Board member of the Phoenix Football Club. She is a member of the New Zealand China Council and the New Zealand-United States Council Advisory Board. She is Patron of Mary Potter Hospice and Wellington High Performance Aquatics. In 2015 Ms Prendergast took on the role of Ambassador for dementia through Alzheimers New Zealand.

Dame Gaylene Preston directed her first feature film, Mr Wrong, in Wellington in 1985. Since then she has continued to contribute New Zealand stories to global cinema and her award-winning work has screened extensively at international festivals including Venice, Sundance, Toronto, London, Fantasporto, Chicago, San Francisco, and Munich. Most recently she made the documentary film ‘My Year with Helen’ (2017) on Helen Clark’s bid to become the United Nation’s first female Secretary-General. She was the writer, producer and director of the 2010 film ‘Home By Christmas’, a narrative documentary based on her father’s recollections of his service during World War II, which received international acclaim and was in the top 15 highest grossing New Zealand films in its year of release.

She produced and directed the 2006 documentary ‘Earthquake’ presenting eyewitness accounts of the Napier earthquake. She wrote, produced and directed the award-winning 2003 film ‘Perfect Strangers’. In 2010 she received the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding contribution to documentary from Documentary Edge and a Women in Film and Television New Zealand Award for outstanding contribution to the New Zealand Screen Industry. She wrote, produced and directed the 2014 mini-series ‘Hope and Wire’ on the aftermath of the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes. She edited war-themed archival films which were projected onto the Auckland War Memorial Museum for Anzac Day commemorations in 2011 and 2012.

Dame Diana Crossan has provided leadership in the public service, working hard to enable equal employment opportunities and retirement savings. She was the first manager of the Equal Employment Opportunities Unit at the State Services Commission. In this role she helped shape legislation on equal work opportunities for women, Māori, other ethnic groups, and people with disabilities. She was the Retirement Commissioner from 2003 to 2013, developing a national strategy for financial literacy that incorporated practical strategies such as the website, multimedia campaigns, and education in schools. Her work contributed to the development of Kiwisaver.

She worked on a number of governance boards focused on improving financial literacy and retirement planning, including as Chair of the New Zealand Institute for Research on Ageing Advisory Board and the Massey University Financial Education Centre Advisory Board. She has led and participated in substantial organisations in the charitable and not-for-profit sectors. She chaired the JR McKenzie Trust for many years and served on several charity Boards, including Relationship Services and Refugee Services. She was the Chief Executive of Wellington Free Ambulance from 2013 to 2017.

At the top of the list:

Sir Stephen Robert Tindall who becomes a Knight grand companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business, the community, and the environment.

There are four new knights companion of the NZ Order of Merit:

Dr Ian Bruce Hassall, of Auckland, for services to the welfare of children; Robert Arnold McLeod of Auckland, for services to business and Māori; Timothy Richard Shadbolt of Invercargill, for services to local government and the community; Robert Kinsela Workman of Levin, for services to prisoner welfare and the justice sector.

The full honours list is here.