An ailing Jim Anderton was presented with an insignia for his services to Parliament at a special investiture ceremony on Sunday.
The long-standing politician was awarded the insignia of a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, after being named on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June.
A small group of family and friends, former Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Helen Clark, and Mayor Lianne Dalziel, were at the ceremony.
Mr Anderton, 79, is frail and was in a wheelchair at the ceremony. It was held at Nazareth House, where he is now living.
Since the February 22, 2011 earthquake, Mr Anderton and former National MP Philip Burdon have been campaigning for the restoration of the Christ Church Cathedral.
The Anglican Diocese’s synod will vote on the Cathedral’s future on Saturday.
Mr Burdon said Mr Anderton was “particularly frail” due to old age.
“He was really very frail and there was no way he could go to Wellington for the ceremony,” Mr Burdon said.
“It was a very nice and moving ceremony for someone the community has great respect for.”
Ms Clark said it was a privilege to be at the ceremony and she could not think of a more deserving recipient.
“Jim’s contribution to New Zealand has been massive for decades.”
Mr Anderton was MP for Sydenham, now Wigram, from 1984 to 2011. At the time, he was known as the unofficial “father of the house”.
The seat is now held by his hand-picked successor Labour MP Megan Woods.
Dr Woods said she could not attend the ceremony, but was thrilled his contribution had been recognised.
“I had a scheduled street corner meeting and Jim would not tolerate me missing a street corner meeting or my campaign,” she said.
“Jim’s been a huge part of south-west Christchurch and gave everyone hope and the belief that politicians can make a difference.”
Mr Anderton and his wife Carole could not be reached for comment.
After splitting from Labour in 1989, Mr Anderton formed two new political parties. He held a number of portfolios and became deputy Prime Minister.