Marshall, Taylor given NZ honours

Ben McKayAAP
Benji Marshall is considered one of the greatest players ever to play rugby league.
Camera IconBenji Marshall is considered one of the greatest players ever to play rugby league. Credit: AAP

NRL great Benji Marshall, legendary New Zealand netball coach Ruth Aitken and Test run machine Ross Taylor have been given Queen's Birthday honours.

Marshall, a 21-time New Zealand captain who lives in Sydney, was surprised at the award.

"I got an email and it was in my junk mail actually. But I checked it and it said royal honour or something," Marshall told NZ news outlet Stuff.

"I actually thought it was a joke to be honest but I opened it and it said I'd been nominated.

"I had to reply that I was happy to accept the nomination ... I also had to keep it quiet and I hadn't told anyone about it apart from my wife, so no one else in my family knew.

"So it's lucky that I opened the email!"

Ross Taylor, New Zealand's greatest Test runscorer, retired in April and on Monday was named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

"You win man of the match awards and win trophies and player of the series awards but this extra special," he said.

Aitken will now be known as Dame Ruth after a career which included leading the Silver Ferns to the 2003 world championship and two Commonwealth Games golds.

"A bit of a shock, I must admit," she told the NZ Herald, as she joined current coach Dame Noeline Taurua with the title.

"I had to read the letter a couple of times. But I feel very blessed and very honoured."

To commemorate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, two Kiwis were given New Zealand's top imperial honour and made members of the Order of New Zealand.

Dame Silvia Cartwright - NZ's first female High Court justice - and Sir Tipene O'Regan - a key negotiator in treaty settlements - were added to the group, usually capped at 20, in a special celebration of the Queen's 70 years on the throne.

Among the 187 recipients of awards on Monday was Christopher Ellison, a Kiwi turned Western Australian mining magnate, who was made a member of the New Zealand order of merit.

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