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Her Majesty The Queen, has awarded David H. W. Hartnell the Insignia of a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen's birthday Honours list 2011.
David was awarded MNZM in recognition for his services to the national and international entertainment industry, most notably as a celebrity journalist on TV, radio and in print. In 1976 he became New Zealand’s first full-time freelance gossip columnist in all media’s; he was the chairman of the Miss Zealand judging panel from 1982 -87. During the 1980’s he designed makeup for New Zealand stage productions of ‘Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’, ‘Annie’ and ‘Half a Sixpence’ plus a number of television shows. In 1996 he was one of the original presenters of ‘The Express Report’, New Zealand’s first alternative gay lifestyle television shows. In 1998 he was awarded the Variety Artist Club of New Zealand’s ‘Scroll of Honour’ for his contribution to New Zealand entertainment. In 2009 he was made patron of the Variety Artist Club of New Zealand. In May 2011 Penguin published his life story ‘David Hartnell’s Memoirs of a Gossip Columnist’, in Feb 2011 his star was placed on the Boulevard of Dream’s walk of fame.
David regularly participates in fund-raising events for charitable trusts all over New Zealand. He was the first person in New Zealand to use multi-media messaging of his Hollywood gossip column which went straight to mobile phones. His columns are syndicated in newspapers and magazine around the world, he lectures at universities and other educational institutions on vintage and modern day television shows and celebrities. He is the author of seven books, David has spent a lifetime reporting on Hollywood’s trivia, gossip and scandals about the rich and famous. His saying "I’m Not One To Gossip But" and "My Lips Are Sealed" have now become part of New Zealand popular culture.