New Zealand is presenting Annandale resident Connie Lawn with an honorary Order of Merit for her longtime service to the country.
Lawn worked for Radio New Zealand for 20 years, then for private New Zealand radio stations in NZ and now blogs for scoop.co.nz. During her career as a journalist, she says, “I always asked the NZ questions at the White House, State Department, Congress, and Pentagon.”
“No country, outside of my native United States, has treated me better than New Zealand,” Lawn says. “I am deeply touched.” The award is honorary because she is an American citizen. Lawn has also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Press Club of NZ, and a champion race horse has been named for her.
Lawn was informed of the honor by phone then later received a letter from the governor-general stating: “I am delighted to inform you that her Majesty the Queen has been pleased to appoint you as an Honorary Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, in recognition of your services to New Zealand—United States Relations.”
That was followed by a letter from New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who wrote: “Our success as a nation relies on citizens from all walks of life stepping forward, helping others, seeking new ways of doing things, and reaching for their dreams. You have made an outstanding contribution to that success and enriched the lives of us all.”
“Now it is my turn to try to help them,” Lawn says. “That beautiful island nation, with breathtaking scenery and warm, generous people, continues to suffer from the ongoing string of earthquakes which destroyed a large portion of Christchurch and its suburbs.” The biggest earthquake struck in February 2011 and killed 181 people. She says Americans can help the recovery effort by making a tax-free contribution to American Friends of Christchurch.