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Helen Clark

17 July, 2006

Changes to rules around use of title

Prime Minister Helen Clark today announced changes to the rules relating to the use and the grant of the title ‘The Honourable’.

Helen Clark said that in 1974, the Queen approved rules relating to the use and grant of the title ‘The Honourable’. These rules provided for the title ‘The Honourable’ to be granted to certain senior public office holders, including the Prime Minister, Members of the Executive Council, the Speaker, the Chief Justice and senior Judges (if not Privy Counsellors), while in office. On relinquishing, or retirement from office, these public office holders were eligible to be recommended to the Queen for retention of the title for life.

“The Queen has recently approved some changes to the rules for the use and the grant of the title ‘The Honourable’ in New Zealand,” Helen Clark said.

The new rules:

  • Make provision for the title ‘The Honourable’ to be used by the Governor-General (if he or she is not a Privy Counsellor) while in office and be retained for life. Under the previous rules, Executive Councillors (Ministers) were entitled to be granted the title ‘The Honourable’ on assumption of office, and be recommended for retention of the title for life. The Governor-General presides over, but is not a member of, Executive Council. The Governor-General was therefore ineligible for the grant of the title. The new rules have fixed this anomaly. The next Governor-General, Judge Satyanand, will be granted the title ‘The Honourable’ on assumption of office as Governor-General, for life.
  • Make provision for former Governors-General (who are not Privy Counsellors or already entitled to use the title ‘The Honourable’ by virtue of a former role) to be granted the title ‘The Honourable’. Rt Rev Sir Paul Reeves and Dame Catherine Tizard will now be eligible to use the title ‘The Honourable’ and may retain it for life. Sir Michael Hardie-Boys is a Privy Counsellor, and is therefore already eligible to use the title ‘The Right Honourable’. Dame Silvia Cartwright has already been granted use of the title ‘The Honourable’ for life, as a result of her appointment as a High Court Judge.
  • The new rules recognise the establishment of the Supreme Court, by explicitly listing Supreme Court Judges in the list of public office holders that are eligible for the grant of this title. No change in practice results from this change, because Supreme Court Judges were eligible for the grant of the title by virtue of their status as High Court Judges.

Helen Clark said that in the past, the Queen personally considered all recommendations made for public officer holders to retain the title ‘The Honourable’ for life. The Queen has now delegated authority to the Governor-General to consider such recommendations.

  • Helen Clark
  • Prime Minister