New Zealand’s first female Olympic gold medallist has been made a Dame, a month after her passing.

Yvette Corlett (nee Williams) receive the title as part of the 2019 Queen's Birthday Honour List.

The Dunedin-born athlete wrote her name into New Zealand's Olympic history books when she won a gold medal for long jump at the 1952 Helsinki games, becoming our first female Olympic champion.

"Yvette Williams was a trail blazer and a true beacon of what is possible for women. She was a truly humble and great New Zealander, who was deeply passionate about sport and young athletes," said NZOC President Mike Stanley.


Out of the spotlight, and subsequent to her Olympic achievements, Yvette dedicated a lifetime to administering, coaching, and teaching sport.

Yvette was also a Physical Education teacher, and through her profession and passion, over many years of teaching, positively impacted young girls at secondary school and encouraged them to follow their dreams.

Corlett also had four Commonwealth Games gold medals to her name, winning the 1950 long jump gold in Auckland - a title she defended four years later in Vancouver while also winning the discus and shot put.

Corlett passed away in April aged 89.

Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Hirini was also recognised, made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to rugby.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought I would receive an honour like I did today. I just love playing this sport for our country,” said Hirini on Instagram.

“Thank you everyone who has messaged & called me today and to those who continue to support myself and the team #proudkiwi


Hirini was selected for the team 8 years ago and has since taken on the captaincy, leading the team to a Commonwealth Games gold medal and an Olympic silver medal.

Yvette Williams
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