A Northlander who donated $5 million to victims of the Christchurch earthquake has been awarded a top honour from Prime Minister John Key.
Wealthy American philanthropist Julian Robertson - who owns Kauri Cliffs golf course and lodge near Matauri Bay, as well as lodges in Hawke's Bay and Queenstown - was made an honorary Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2010 New Year Honours for his contribution to philanthropy and business.
He was to receive the insignia from Mr Key during a black-tie dinner at the New Zealand Embassy in Washington.
It was also revealed that Mr Robertson had given $5 million towards the Christchurch earthquake relief fund, about 5 per cent of the $100 million donated around the world.
In 2004, Mr Robertson and wife Josie gave $1.5 million towards the Turner Centre in Kerikeri, a multi-purpose performing arts centre said to have the best auditorium north of Auckland.
Mrs Robertson was the Turner Centre's patron until her death last year of breast cancer.
The Robertsons also gave Auckland Art Gallery 15 paintings _ including works by Gauguin, Dali and Picasso _ worth a total of $115 million.
Mr Robertson spends three months a year at his New Zealand lodges and in an interview last year called New Zealand ``the most beautiful place on Earth''.
In the 2005 election campaign the staunch Republican came under fire from Labour, without being named, for allegedly financing the campaign of then National leader Don Brash. However, he also donated to Labour MP Dover Samuels' Te Tai Tokerau campaign.