The New Zealander of the Year Awards Office announces the Semi-Finalists in seven categories for the 2023 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards NgÄ Tohu Pou KÅhure o Aotearoa.
From thousands of nominations, these remarkable New Zealanders stood out; identified by our independent judging panel as upholding the mana and spirit of this much-loved awards programme. These semi-finalists have continuously sparked joy across the motu.
Miriama Kamo, Te Koruru Patron of the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards says, “Once again, it’s been an extraordinary year – marked with deep challenges, exhilarating celebrations and courageous decisions. And through it all, our Semi-Finalists have each demonstrated their unwavering commitment to making this country a better place for us all – stepping up to act as ‘pou,’ as support and strength for whanau, for communities, for our country and beyond. It’s an honour and a privilege to play a role in acknowledging the achievements of our 2023 Semi-Finalists. NgÄ mihi nunui ki a koutou katoa.”
The annual Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards celebrate Kiwi from all walks of life; those who inspire, give hope and lead across seven Award categories.
Earlier this year, the Awards Office called on New Zealanders to honour extraordinary Kiwi, those who use their passion to make Aotearoa a better place, by casting a nomination. Thousands of nominations were then rigorously evaluated by an independent and diverse judging panel, and the 10 Semi-Finalists per category were selected.
All Semi-Finalists go on for consideration in the next round of judging, where they are carefully whittled down to just three Finalists in each Award category, to be announced Tuesday 22 February. Category Winners will be revealed at the New Zealander of the Year Awards Gala Dinner, set to take place on Thursday 30 March 2023 in TÄmaki Makaurau.
To learn more about the 2023 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Awards NgÄ Tohu Pou KÅhure o Aotearoa
Semi-Finalists and their incredible stories, visit nzawards.org.nz.
2022 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Te Pou Whakarae o Aotearoa Semi-Finalists:
â Sir John Kirwan MBE OBE KNZM (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) In 2022, Sir John Kirwan embarked on a 2100km journey across the country to raise money and introduce the Mitey mental health wellbeing programme into schools.
â Mark Law (Whakatane) In the aftermath of the horrific disaster on Whakaari/White Island, helicopter pilot Mark Law was first on the scene and organised the recovery and transport of 20 people to hospital.
â Professor Rangi MÄtÄmua (Kirikiriroa Hamilton) In 2022, Professor Rangi MÄtÄmua became known as “the man behind Matariki” – appointed as chief advisor to the government on the MÄori New Year.
â Dame Robin White DNZM (Masterton) It’s been a year of celebrations for extraordinary artist Dame Robin White DNZM – who for over 50 years has portrayed people and their environments in Aotearoa and beyond.
â Distinguished Professor Roy Kerr FRS CNZM FRSNZ (Åtautahi Christchurch) Distinguished Professor Roy Kerr FRS CNZM FRSNZ is an eminent mathematician, internationally renowned for a discovery that sparked a revolution in physics.
â Ruby Tui (Tauranga) Athlete, author and advocate for mental health, Women’s Rugby star Ruby Tui has ignited the nation with her natural charisma, talent and passion for the game.
â Shaneel Lal (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) As New Zealand celebrated 50 years of Pride in Aotearoa, Shaneel Lal was on the frontlines – igniting the country in a successful battle to end Conversion Therapy.
â TÄme Iti (Whakatane) 2022 has been a monumental year for Tame Iti: cementing his place as an artist and change maker who has shifted the course of history in Aotearoa New Zealand.
â Dr Vincent O’Malley (Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington) Acclaimed historian Vincent O’Malley has spent decades exploring formative conflicts in Aotearoa New Zealand’s history, offering essential knowledge to shape our collective identity.
â Jools and Lynda Topp – The Topp Twins (Methven and Kaipara) For over 25 years, Jools and Lynda Topp have made us laugh, made us think, advocated for good and ultimately made a deep and lasting impact on Aotearoa and the world.
Category Award Semi-Finalists for 2023:
University of Canterbury Young New Zealander of the Year Te Matatahi o Te Tau
â Elliot Jones (Whanganui) Elliot Jones is on a mission to transform the way people across New Zealand think about dyslexia.
â Genevieve Mora (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) After years battling mental illness, Genevieve Mora is using her lived experience to remove stigma and help others feel less alone.
â Georgia Latu (Åtepoti Dunedin) 16 year old Georgia Latu is the co-founder and CEO of the largest poi manufacturer in the world – taking over the 2022 Women’s Rugby World Cup Final with 30,000 poi.
â Mason Bleakley (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) A passionate advocate for innovation, Mason Bleakley has a goal to see New Zealand as the best place to launch global business through a thriving start-up ecosystem.
â Nina Santos (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) Nina Santos is a pay equity campaigner and a vociferous champion for intersectional gender equity and migrant rights. As Delivery Manager for the Mindthegap, she is determined to address pay discrimination and close New Zealand’s pay gaps.
â Rangipo Ngaire Takuira-Mita (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) Part of rangatahi-led group Te PÅ« a NgÄ MÄra, Rangipo Takuira-Mita brings rangatahi innovators together to uncover indigenous solutions for a sustainable future through revive, reconnect, and regeneration.
â Shaneel Lal (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) (they/ them) As New Zealand celebrated 50 years of Pride in Aotearoa, Shaneel Lal was on the frontlines – igniting the country in a successful battle to end Conversion Therapy.
â Shaquille Shortland (Whangarei Te Taitokerau) Community leader, entrepreneur and now Mayoral candidate, Shaquille Shortland is passionate about the revitalisation and retention of indigenous knowledge.
â Sukhans Asrani (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) After struggling in high school, Sukhans Asrani went on to create Zorbi – a digital tool that makes studying hyper efficient, now used by thousands of students worldwide.
â Toilolo Leilani Taula (Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington) Toilolo Leilani Taula wants to see the Pasifika community better represented in the legal profession in Aotearoa – and she’s doing everything she can to help them get there.
Ryman Healthcare Senior New Zealander of the Year Award Te MÄtÄpuputu o te Tau
â Graham Roy Falla (TÄmaki Makaurau, Auckland) For over five decades, Graham Roy Falla has championed the restoration and preservation of his local environment; generously sharing time and knowledge with his community.
â Dr Haare Williams MNZM (TÄmaki Makaurau, Auckland) Dr Haare Williams MNZM has dedicated his life to bridging the distance between Te Ao MÄori and Te Ao PÄkehÄ, making a significant contribution to MÄoridom in Aotearoa New Zealand.
â Hansa Naran (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) A passionate advocate for women and families, Hansa Naran is well known in Manukau for her tireless community service spanning over 30 years.
â Joy Cowley (Featherston) Joy Cowley is a New Zealand literary legend who has inspired generations with her warmth, imagination and commitment to sharing stories.
â Dr Kantilal Patel QSM (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) Over the last 45 years Dr Kantilal Patel QSM has earned a reputation as a community leader, general practitioner and philanthropist in Otara, South Auckland.
â Dame Malvina Major ONZ GNZM DBE (Kirikiriroa Hamilton) In 2022, Dame Malvina Major ONZ GNZM DBE achieved a lifelong goal with the launch of Te Pae KÅkako – The Aotearoa New Zealand Opera Studio, supporting talented young New Zealand singers at the University of Waikato.
â Marie Jujnovich (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland). Dedicated, selfless and deeply compassionate, Marie Jujnovich has dedicated her life to supporting children and whÄnau impacted by childhood heart conditions.
â Mark Dunajtschik (Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington) A concentration camp survivor turned remarkable philanthropist, Mark Dunajtschik has overcome devastating adversity to ultimately change lives across Aotearoa.
â Matthew Te Pou MNZM MBE BEM (WhakatÄne) Considered a Rangatira (esteemed chief) for his people, former soldier, rugby coach and community leader Matthew John Te Pou MNZM MBE BEM has lived his life in service to others.
â Professor Sir Pou Temara KNZM (Kirikiriroa Hamilton) Professor Sir Pou Temara (NgÄi TÅ«hoe) is an internationally renowned professor of MÄori language, knowledge and culture.
Spark New Zealand Innovator of the Year Te Pou Whakairo O Te Tau
â Andrew Barnes (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) Innovator, entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrew Barnes is internationally regarded as the architect of the four day work week.
â David Irving ONZM (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) David Irving ONZM is a New Zealand business legend who is committed to giving back.
â Emily Blythe (Åtautahi Christchurch) Emily Blythe is making airport fog delays a thing of the past with her ground-breaking technology, Pyper Vision.
â Jos Ruffell (Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington) Putting New Zealand beer and ingredients on a world stage, Jos Ruffell is a driving force behind Garage Project and Phantasm.
â MÄhera Maihi (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) MÄhera Maihi is is helping South Auckland youth escape from cycles of family violence, gangs, and poverty through her charity MÄ Te Huruhuru.
â Michele Wilson (TÄmaki Makaurau, Auckland) A champion for MÄori innovation and MÄori women succeeding in business, Michele Wilson is a wÄhine toa on a mission: to live her values through her mahi.
â Robbie van Dam (Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington) In the face of biodiversity decline, Robbie van Dam, co-founder and Innovation Director of Goodnature, is rewilding the world with a revolutionary approach to eradicating invasive species.
â Ross Ihaka (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) Ross Ihaka is a New Zealand statistician. In the 1990s, he co-created a free number-crunching software that is today used by millions of people all over the world.
â Travis Glare (Waitaha Canterbury) Travis Glare has dedicated his life to protecting Aotearoa’s flora and fauna, as Director of Lincoln University, he’s inspiring the next generation of researchers and scientists to do the same.
â Vaughan Fergusson (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) Vaughan Fergusson is the innovative mind behind Vend – a high-growth tech success story – who is now channelling his energy into the next generation.
Ministry for the Environment ManatÅ« MÅ Te Taiao New Zealand Environmental Hero of the Year Award
Te Toa Taiao o te Tau
â Camden Howitt (TÄmaki Makaurau, Auckland) As an inspiring leader and determined problem solver, Camden Howitt is devoted to protecting and regenerating te taiao, and has spent over a decade driving collaborative solutions around Aotearoa and the Pacific.
â Estelle Leask MNZM (MotupÅhue Bluff) A environmental champion in the far South, Estelle Leask has dedicated her life to being a kaitiaki – a guardian – for the land and culture she loves.
â India Logan-Riley (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) they/them Representing indigenous communities on a world stage, India Logan-Riley is making waves as a climate change activist and leader for rangatahi across Aotearoa.
â Dr Jessica Hutchings (Kaitoke) Dr Jessica Hutchings is a well-known kaupapa MÄori research leader committed to empowering others through knowledge sharing, research and community practice.
â Jessi Morgan (Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington) As the Chief Executive of Predator Free New Zealand Trust, Jessi Morgan is empowering and connecting people across Aotearoa to protect our precious wildlife.
â Professor Kura Paul-Burke (Tauranga) Associate Professor Kura Paul-Burke is New Zealand’s first wÄhine MÄori Professor of Marine Research – inspiring the next generation of marine scientists.
â Dr Mike Joy (Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington) New Zealand freshwater ecologist and science communicator Dr Mike Joy has made a name for himself as a fierce advocate for environmental protection.
â Simon Hall (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) As well as being the Executive Chairman of Tasti Food Ltd, Simon Hall is a record-breaking conversationalist – channelling business success into a force for good.
â Tina Porou MNZM(Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington) Tina Porou advocates for the importance of kaitiakitanga and honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi for the well-being of our natural environment.
â William Anaru (Pongakawa) An innovative leader with impact, William Anaru is igniting his community with a range of environmental projects through the Te Arawa Lakes Trust.
Mitre 10 New Zealand Community of the Year Nga Pou Whirinaki o Te Tau
â Achieving @ Waitakere Charitable Trust (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) An embodiment of community in action, Achieving @ Waitakere (A@W) is a charitable trust on a mission to ensure young people in West Auckland succeed in education.
â The Christchurch Aunties (Åtautahi Christchurch) The Christchurch Aunties is a thriving network of over 6,000 people helping women and children in Canterbury who have experienced family violence.
â Foster Hope Otago (Dunedin) Founded on the belief that every child deserves to know that someone cares about them, Foster Hope Otago is a volunteer community supporting young people in foster care.
â Littlemore (TÄmaki Makaurau Auckland) A grassroots charity making a big difference every day, Littlemore provides over 4,500 baby items a week, so whÄnau living below the poverty line have the essentials they need to nurture their babies and keep them safe and warm.
â PÄ Harakeke Flaxmere (Paharakeke, Flaxmere) Over the past decade, PÄ Harakeke Flaxmere – a township in the Hastings District – has undergone a major transformation; rallying together after some of their darkest days.
â Pathway Charitable Group (National) Pathway Charitable Group’s ground breaking Navigate Initiative supports prisoners before, during and after their release, inspiring them to live positive, meaningful lives in our communities.
â REAP Aotearoa Collective (National) REAP Aotearoa is a collective of 13 organisations that exist in rural communities around the country, offering support on a community, whÄnau and individual level.
â Recreate NZ (National) Across New Zealand, Recreate NZ offers life-changing experiences for young people with disabilities.
â The Good Registry (National) The Good Registry is a community built around championing the good – offering an alternative to traditional gift-giving that reduces waste and supports great causes.
â The Kindness Collective (National) The Kindness Collective (KC) is a charity that spreads kindness by connecting children and families with the things they need – from everyday essentials to moments of joy.