Previous winners


Dame Hinewehi Mohi DNZM (Havelock North)

Dame Hinewehi

Dame Hinewehi Mohi (Ngāti Kahungunu/Ngāi Tūhoe) DNZM is an acclaimed New Zealand singer/songwriter. When she performed the New Zealand National Anthem in te reo Māori during the 1999 Rugby World Cup, she took the audience by surprise, leading to a national conversation about culture and identity. That moment in Aotearoa’s history became a turning point in the recognition of te reo Māori; it is now customary that the national anthem is sung in both Māori and English. Hinewehi co-founded the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre in 2004, helping to change the lives of those with disabilities. Now over 700 people are engaged in music therapy each week, through the three centres in Auckland, Whangārei and Hawkes Bay. As Managing Director of her own company, Hinewehi has produced hundreds of hours of television and digital content for broadcast, celebrating te ao Māori. In 2019, Hinewehi facilitated the Waiata/Anthems album, supporting well-known musicians such as SIX60, Benee, Stan Walker and Drax Project, to record their hit songs in te reo Māori. For the artists it has been life changing, connecting to the language and culture through their music. In 2021, she facilitated the digital release of over 30 songs for the inaugural Waiata Anthems Week, including helping Lorde with the translations of Solar Power into te reo Māori, and the ensuing Te Ao Marama EP became a global sensation. Hinewehi continues to facilitate the growth of waiata reo Māori in her role at the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) promoting the development of a bilingual music industry in Aotearoa. In 2021 she was promoted to Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to Māori, music, and television.

Dame Judith Anne Kilpatrick CNZM (Auckland)

Dame Judy

Dame Judith Anne Kilpatrick CNZM, a pioneer in the field of nursing education, recently retired after 47 years leading the ongoing development of nursing in New Zealand. Made a Dame Companion in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2021, she is recognised for a life dedicated to the support of excellent nursing education. She worked to help create an academic framework that brought nursing into mainstream academia, and co-founded the University of Auckland's School of Nursing in 1999; she ran the school from 2002-2017 and in this role oversaw the largest postgraduate nursing education provider in the country. Dame Judith chaired the Nursing Council of New Zealand from 1996 to 2002, and her vision helped gain traction for the establishment of nurse practitioners, who are qualified with a Master’s degree and able to prescribe medication. Now retired, she continues in her commitment to growing nursing skills and recently led a delegation to Tonga to develop graduate education packages to nurses.

Dame Valerie Adams DNZM (Auckland)

Dame Valerie

Dame Valerie Adams is an extraordinary New Zealander. A charismatic and self-deprecating sportswoman, she has inspired women and girls to be confident in their physical talents through her global success in shot put. She is the second New Zealand woman to have competed at five Olympics and has won two golds, one silver and in 2021 a bronze at the Tokyo Olympics. For nine years she won every single major international meet, in an unprecedented winning streak from 2006-2014. She is an exemplary ambassador for Aotearoa and the Pacific community through her many international accolades; she was the World Athletics Female Athlete of the Year for 2014. Dame Valerie has won 17 New Zealand shot put titles and from 2006 was named the Halberg Sportswoman of the Year for seven consecutive years. Her successful return to the sport after the birth of her two children was driven by her tenacity and love for athletics. She became New Zealand’s youngest Dame in 2016.

Professor Michael Baker MNZM (Wellington)

Michael Baker

Professor Michael Baker has become a household name since the Covid-19 pandemic began. An epidemiologist with the University of Otago, he has been the go-to source for comprehensive, impartial and reliable information about the pandemic and how to manage it. Professor Baker was the first scientist to propose the world-leading Covid-19 elimination strategy, which he promoted to governments here and internationally. This strategy is estimated to have saved more than 10,000 lives in NZ alone. He was an early advocate for mask use, improved border controls, and other policies that have helped keep New Zealanders safe. A member of the Ministry of Health's Covid-19 Technical Advisory Group, Professor Baker’s credibility has made him a reassuring voice during the pandemic. His work has been recognised by a number of awards: the Critic and Conscience of Society Award and the Public Health Champion award; he was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit in 2021, was selected as the 2020 Wellingtonian of the Year, and won the Prime Minister’s Science Communication Prize in 2021. Throughout his career in medicine and public health, Professor Baker has been a fearless advocate for innovative ways to protect New Zealanders. He was the driving force behind NZ establishing the world’s first national needle and syringe exchange programme which helped keep HIV/AIDS from spreading. He also advocated for improved food safety to reduce campylobacter in chicken, estimated to have prevented 750,000 cases of illness and 400 deaths. Professor Baker is currently leading research to prevent other serious infectious diseases such a rheumatic fever, an important cause of heart damage for Māori and Pacific People.

Hon Kiri Allan (Gisborne)

Kiri Allan

Kiri Allan (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) was born in 1984 and raised in Paengaroa. She left school at 16 and spent the next several years working at KFC, on orchards, and selling vacuum cleaners before being convinced to go to university by a law professor she struck up a friendship with while working in a bar. Before entering parliament in 2017, Kiri managed a large agriculture and horticulture portfolio in the East Coast that included kiwifruit, dairy farms, forestry sites and apiculture. She also practised commercial and public law in Wellington, the Bay of Plenty and the East Coast, and was involved in the climate change organisation

In April 2021 she revealed she had been diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer. Her candour and openness at this time won her fans across the land, and she used the opportunity to urge women, especially Māori, to get their cervical smear check-ups. She both demystified and normalised the check-up process and in doing so has helped many women overcome their fears.

Judge Andrew Becroft (Wellington)

Judge Becroft

Andrew Becroft has spent much of his life improving the lives of young New Zealanders. Beginning his legal career in 1981, he helped establish the Mangere Community Law Centre. In 1996 he was appointed a District Court Judge, and then Principal Youth Court Judge of New Zealand in 2001.  In 2016 he was appointed to the role of Children’s Commissioner. In the past year he’s been an independent and outspoken voice, highlighting: the abuse of children in state care, and calling for historic investigations to go beyond the year 2000; the widely criticised Oranga Tamariki (Youth Justice Demerits Points) Amendment bill, and was credited for the bill’s subsequent withdrawal; he has publicly urged the Government for more rapid and far reaching action on child poverty statistics; and Judge Becroft has argued emphatically for an increased legal age for criminal responsibility, moving from 10 to 14 years. His compelling communication style and knowledge has forced politicians to sit-up and listen; he is a high-profile and effective campaigner for rights of Aotearoa’s children.

Dame Lisa Carrington DNZM (Auckland)

Lisa Carrington

Lisa Carrington (Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki/Ngāti Porou) carries the honour of being New Zealand’s most successful Olympian. The flatwater sprint kayaker is a household name, and became New Zealand’s most decorated Olympic medalist at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, where she won three gold medals; she now has a total collection of five gold medals and one bronze. Training three times a day, six days a week, her determination, drive and positivity makes her a role-model for young New Zealanders, and at this year’s Māori Sports Awards she was named Most Influential Māori Sports Personality of the past 30 years. With 10 World Championship gold medals, including seven successive K1 200m titles, Lisa is also a four-time winner of the Halberg Sportswoman of the Year Award. In 2016 she claimed the Halberg Supreme Award and in 2021 she was named Halberg Sportswoman of the Decade. Lisa’s humble nature and genuine appreciation of her team and supporters has won the respect of New Zealanders everywhere.

Lyall Thurston QSO JP (Rotorua)


Lyall Thurston has been advocating vociferously for the disability sector for nearly forty years. When his son was born with spina bifida in 1983, Lyall began to research the cause of this type of birth defect and his research pointed to the importance of Vitamin B9 folic acid in the early stages of pregnancy. Lyall’s son is now 38, and throughout his lifetime Lyall has been campaigning both in New Zealand and overseas for awareness and inclusion of folic acid in bread products. On the 8th of July this year, the Government agreed to join 87 other countries worldwide who have legislated to mandate fortification of wheat flour with folic acid, a move which is expected to reduce neural tube defect births in New Zealand babies by 240 over the next thirty years. Lyall has been awarded a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order for Community Service. Lyall’s leadership in the health and disability sector has been exemplary and exhaustive, working with public health lobbyists, researchers, scientists internationally, disability organisations, government committees, alongside Ministers, Regional Health Authorities, District Health Boards and community groups; his life has been spent in avid support of others.

Tā Tipene O'Regan (Canterbury)

Tā Tipene

A public figure for most of his life, Tā Tipene O’Regan (Ngāi Tahu) has walked many paths. A major negotiator in Ngāi Tahu’s Te Tiriti o Waitangi Settlement, a public speaker, thinker and academic, Tā Tipene has brought his knowledge and energy to the social and political fabric of Aotearoa New Zealand. The former university lecturer chaired and developed the Ngāi Tahu Archive Advisory Committee, which has led to a partnership with Archives New Zealand, and the rehousing of the Ngāi Tahu Archive collection at the brand new, state-of-the-art facility at Wigram in 2021.

Now in his 80s, Tā Tipene continues to think about the future for his people. In 2021 he worked alongside Minister Megan Woods to ensure the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter closure will be managed to create the best outcomes for the region and has been instrumental in driving hui to explore opportunities for new, green hydrogen industries in the area. Tā Tipene’s work has naturally strengthened Ngāi Tahu’s ownership of its past, while helping to build a future-focused, intergenerational iwi.

Melissa Vining (Southland)

Melissa Vining

Melissa Vining’s husband Blair was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in 2018. Despite the late stage of his cancer, waitlists meant it was unlikely he could see a specialist or receive treatment before passing away. The pair spent the rest of Blair’s life, another year, campaigning relentlessly to improve cancer treatment in New Zealand. Together they created New Zealand’s largest cancer petition which lead to the establishment of Te Aho o Te Kahu, the New Zealand Cancer Control Agency. To honour Blair’s dying wish Melissa and her community established the Southland Charity Hospital Trust, to build a community hospital that will offer free health care services to the people of Otago and Southland, starting with colonoscopies and dental care. Still under construction, Melissa’s tireless fundraising had seen thousands of bricks bought by members of the public. Scheduled to open mid 2022, the Southland Charity Hospital has already started delivering colonoscopies months ahead of its official launch, operating a day clinic with the help and generosity of numerous specialists donating their time. Melissa’s hard work and vocal, public advocacy for a better health system is transforming the health outcomes for the people of Otago and Southland.



To be eligible for this award, the nominee must have, through their achievements, made an outstanding contribution to the wellbeing of Aotearoa, particularly across the last 12-months.

Nominators should consider talking about the following areas in their nomination:

  • THE NOMINEE: Describe the person you are nominating and what they’ve done to inspire you to nominate them as Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Te Pou Whakarae o Aotearoa 2022.
  • PURPOSE: Who benefits from the work, contribution, or influence of this person - and how?
  • LEADERSHIP: How does this person set a positive example for other fellow New Zealanders and showing them the potential for change.
  • COMMITMENT: Describe the commitment of time, risks, and challenges overcome to create an impact to this point (this may still be ongoing). What have they done that has gone above and beyond to show leadership, create change, and give back?
  • THOUGHT LEADERSHIP & INNOVATIVE THINKING: How thoughtful, creative, and unique is this person’s approach to their challenge, opportunity, or situation?
  • PROVEN IMPACT: How has this person clearly demonstrated a positive impact in their area of influence? How is has this been measured?
  • LONG-TERM IMPACT: If known, how does this person plan to grow and/or adapt their work, contribution, or influence in the future? How would winning this award impact this person and the work that they are doing?

Nominees in this category also make ideal candidates to consider for a Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero Te Pou Toko o te Tau Nomination also. Remember an individual can be nominated in one or more categories.

Conditions of Entry

“At Kiwibank we’ve always been here to support the growth and progress of Kiwi. We couldn’t be prouder of our decade long partnership with the New Zealander of the Year Awards. It is our privilege to be a partner of this celebration of those selfless, creative and visionary Kiwi who have put in the hard mahi for the benefit of our communities. These special New Zealanders embody how we can all play a part in contributing to our society and together have a positive impact.”
Steve Jurkovich
Kiwibank Chief Executive