National | New Year's Honours

Dr Farrah Palmer appointed Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Professor Farah Palmer (Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato) has mixed emotions about being appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, but her acceptance of the honour comes from a place of respect.

“I really have mixed emotions about it, but the main reason I accepted it was to simply honour those who have come before me,” she says.

Palmer receives the honour for her services to sport, particularly rugby.  She is is a three-time Rugby World Cup-winning captain of the New Zealand women's rugby team (Black Ferns) and has held a variety of governance roles since retiring as a player in 2006.

Professor Palmer was the professional development manager for the Manawatū Rugby Union, an independent member of the Māori Rugby Board, a member of the Women's Advisory Committee of the International Rugby Board, and a research consultant for New Zealand Rugby. She became the first woman on the New Zealand Rugby Board in 2016 and was elected Deputy Chairperson in 2021.

She currently chairs the New Zealand Māori Rugby Board and is President of the New Zealand Rugby Museum. In 2022, she was appointed as Pou Ākonga Executive Director - Māori Student Success at Massey University and previously was Associate Dean Māori for Massey Business School in 2018.

Her research and service focusses on the intersection of Māori and gender identities in high-performance sport, sport for development, and organisational and leadership contexts.

She was a member of Te Manahua New Zealand Universities Women in Leadership Programme Committee from 2015 to 2020. She was a member of the Ministerial Taskforce reviewing Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship in 2014 and was a founding Trustee for Manukura, an education programme with a te ao Māori approach to excellence in sport, culture and education.

“Being referred to as Dame is going to get some getting used to - almost like when I received my PhD and became a professor, but to be honest I’ll probably never get used to it.”

Palmer has held several mentoring and patron roles with education and public sector organisations, and is a member of the Sport and Recreation New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa Board.


  • World Rugby Awards, Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service, 2022.
  • Kawenata Awards, Te Rangituataka Supreme Ward, 2021.
  • Māori Sports Hall of Fame inductee, 2019.
  • Women of Influence, Board and Management Award, 2018.
  • World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee, 2014.
  • Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, New Year 2007.