American billionaire Julian Robertson has been appointed Honorary Knight Companion of the Order (KNZM) for services to business and philanthropy.
``I'm just thrilled, as I've never been honoured with an award like this before,'' Mr Robertson told Hawke's Bay Today from New York this morning. ``I know many of the recipients, like my good friend Douglas Meyers, so I'm pleased to be in such good company.''
Best known in the Bay as owner of the top-end golf resort, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers and Te Awa Winery, Mr Robertson has invested heavily in New Zealand for over 15 years.
The 77-year-old sponsored The Kiwi Challenge golf competition in 2008 and again at the Cape Kidnappers course in November this year, which was televised in 90 countries.
This honour makes him the country's first honorary knight, as he is not a New Zealand citizen. He is entitled to use the KNZM title but is not allowed to use the title ``sir''.
He and wife Josie are also strong supporters of the arts, and in 2009 gifted part of their art collection to Auckland Art Gallery.
The 15-painting gift, which included works by Picasso, Dali, Matisse and Cezanne was valued at $200-$250 million and is recognised as the largest gift in Australasia.
The former Wall Street tycoon said he would make every effort to attend the awards ceremony.