Sincere congratulations to Don Mackenzie and Jan Murphy, the latest St Barnabas parishioners to be recognised in New Zealand’s Honours List. Roberta Smith interviewed Don and Jan recently to talk about their faith and what this award has meant to them.

The NZ Government website states: ‘The primary emphasis in determining the award of honours should be on service to the community or nation, and on merit and achievement, in whatever field, going beyond the normal requirements of duty or office.’

Don Mackenzie was awarded a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to athletics and the community.

Don’s past involvement with Athletics New Zealand includes the one-year term as President and chairing the Board for four years. Don officiated at international athletic events such as the World Games for the Deaf, World Masters Games and Pacific Conference Games, and was Technical Manager at both the 1974 and 1990 Commonwealth Games.

Using his civil engineering skills, he made a major contribution to the design and construction of the Chevron all-weather track laid at Queen Elizabeth II stadium for the 1974 Commonwealth Games. Don is a life member of Athletics New Zealand and continues to be fully involved.

After he retired from Lincoln University, Don, with more time on his hands, joined the St Barnabas Works Team and also took on responsibility for the Parish Fairs which were very successful and later the Parish Fun Days designed to give people a lift in the recovery from the earthquakes.

Since the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, Don has volunteered his extensive structural engineering skills to assist the elderly with their earthquake issues, also assisting our parish and other Anglican churches with various earthquake issues. Speaking with Don, I sensed a quiet unassuming faith which certainly supports his statement: “I believe in what the church (St Barnabas) does.”

Jan Murphy was awarded a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to education and children with intellectual disabilities.

Jan was a key member of the Champion Centre’s early team and then Clinical Practice Manager for over 20 years and considers working there for the past 42 years an enormous privilege. The Champion Centre is now New Zealand’s largest and longest-running early intervention service, providing family-centred, multi-disciplinary, early intervention for infants and young children with a wide range of developmental delays and disabilities.

Jan explains: “This remarkable place puts children and their families at the heart of everything that happens there. Children are honoured for who they are and the contribution they make. Their families are enabled to understand the challenges that exist for their children and to celebrate their strengths. The relationships of children and their families are respected and valued. To work alongside them and to know them has been life changing – and it has been a gift.”

“From early on in my life there was an awareness that all people should have the same rights to live their lives, be in their families and be part of their communities. My mother’s faith influenced this view. As I embarked on a career in Speech and Language Therapy, I quickly came to realize that the developmental challenges of communication disorders experienced by small children, were not the only challenges these children and their families faced. The barriers of social and educational exclusion were very high. So many of these children were prohibited from receiving the very help they needed to be able to live their lives fully. Their worlds, and those of their parents, were isolated and lonely.”

“I ask myself often – ‘why is difference such an issue?’ Difference is just the texture of our lives. Each life is unique and in the eyes of God each life is worthy and of value. The centrality of this is at the heart of my faith and my work.”