Six local figures were recognised in the New Year’s Honours list.
Olympian and World Champion shot-putter Valerie Adams was made a Dame. Triathlete Cameron Brown, health services proponent Ranjna Patel, and shareholders’ advocate Bruce Sheppard were appointed Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit, while former hockey international Katie Glynn and table tennis champion Chunli Li were made Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
The Times has been publishing a profile of each recipient and featuring a short Q&A over the past few weeks.
Chunli Li was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to table tennis.
The 54-year-old Pakuranga resident is a world-renowned table tennis player who has represented New Zealand internationally.
Early in her career, Ms Li was a member of China’s national table tennis team and was twice a mixed doubles champion in China.
As one of New Zealand’s representatives at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, she won gold for women’s singles and silver for women’s doubles, and two bronze medals in the mixed doubles and women’s team competitions.
These are the only Commonwealth Games medals that have been awarded to New Zealand for table tennis.
She has represented New Zealand at four Olympic Games in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004.
Her world ranking peaked at 19 in 1998 and her career-best achievement was finishing third in the 1997 Women’s World Cup.
She coached New Zealand’s national teams for the 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games before coming out of retirement in 2011 to lead the New Zealand table tennis team to the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
At the local level Ms Li initiated and runs a coaching programme through the Panmure YMCA for people of all ages wanting to play table tennis
She was inducted into the Table Tennis New Zealand Hall of Fame in 2014. Table Tennis New Zealand said Ms Li is a role model for success in table tennis.
“We look forward to Chunli being an important part of the New Zealand table tennis scene for years to come, particularly with the influence she has in drawing young Chinese players, and girls in particular, into table tennis.”
The Times asked Ms Li five questions last week.
Q. Who was the first person you told about receiving this honour and why them?
A: The first person I told was a Kiwi friend of mine. This is because I wanted to know more about the MNZM.
Q. What does the MNZM mean to you?
A: This means my hard work is being recognised by the government. This gives me a lot of encouragement.
Q. Does receiving this award change anything for you; does it push you to strive for more?
A: No, not really.
Q. How did you celebrate the announcement?
A: Not yet, since I was in China, but I will do something after the award ceremony.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and how did you follow it/take it on board?
A: My father gave me the best advice by being a role model for me. He always encouraged me to be the best, be responsible and be grateful. I have been following his advice and try my best.