The New Zealander of the Year Awards Office is pleased to announce the three people being considered for 2016’s Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year award.
Rob Fenwick: Environmentalist and business leader (Waiheke Island)
Richie McCaw: Former All Blacks rugby captain (Christchurch)
Louise Nicholas: Victims’ rights advocate (Rotorua)
Comment from the Chief Judge, Cameron Bennett
These three finalists represent aspiration, ambition, determination to succeed and drive to explore what’s possible.
Rob Fenwick is considered one of New Zealand's foremost statesmen for sustainability and the environment. His motivational skills and elegant leadership have benefited numerous conservation organisations over the years.
Richie McCaw’s contribution to New Zealand extends well beyond his storied rugby career. The unrivalled character and leadership he shows on the rugby field is just as evident off it in his charitable work.
Louise Nicholas continues to inspire with her remarkable courage and determination as one of this country's foremost advocates and campaigners for women and the victims of sexual violence. She battled against extraordinary odds to find justice and now tirelessly works for others to find the same.
These three exceptional Kiwis epitomise what it is to be a great New Zealander – leadership, courage, humility, honour and respect.
The annual New Zealander of the Year awards are in their seventh year. They celebrate people who use their passion for New Zealand to make our country a better place. They are open to all New Zealanders to honour extraordinary Kiwis whose selflessness, creativity and vision make us proud to call New Zealand home.
More than 330 nominations were received for the title of 2016 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.
The winner will be announced at the New Zealander of the Year Gala Awards evening in Auckland on February 17.
Previous winners of the New Zealander of the Year Award are: Sir Stephen Tindall (2015), Dr Lance O’Sullivan (2014), Dame Anne Salmond (2013), Sir Richard Taylor (2012), Sir Paul Callaghan (2011) and Sir Ray Avery (2010).
The New Zealander of the Year Awards 2016 will also honour New Zealanders who have performed with distinction in five award categories. The finalists for those categories are:
University of Auckland Young New Zealander of the Year
Lydia Ko (Auckland), Malvindar Singh-Bains (Auckland), Sean Kelly (Taranaki).
Metlifecare Senior New Zealander of the Year
Pratima Devi Nand (Auckland), Avis Leeson (Hamilton), John Russell (Lower Hutt).
Mitre 10 New Zealand Community of the Year
Community Fruit Harvesting (Auckland, national), South Alive (Invercargill), ZEAL (West Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington).
Sanitarium New Zealand Innovator of the Year
Scott Bradley, VMob (Auckland); John Hyndman and Ivan Batistich, HYVAN Anaesthesia (Kaiapoi, Auckland); Photonic Innovations (Dunedin).
Kiwibank 2016 New Zealander of the Year finalists - Biographies
Rob Fenwick is a businessman and company director whose commercial interests have always been closely aligned with conservation and sustainable development.
Fenwick is chairman of Kiwis for Kiwi, Antarctica New Zealand, Greenlane Biogas Ltd and New Zealand Waste Advisory Board. He was a trustee of the World Wide Fund for Nature and Chancellor of the Order of St John in New Zealand, chairing its national board from 2006-09.
He is on advisory panels for Westpac, Air New Zealand, NEXT Foundation and is patron of numerous conservation organisations. He has a long association with Ngati Whatua and the Orakei marae, and is a director of its commercial operations. He was the founding chairman of Ngati Whatua's radio station, Mai FM.
He established the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute in 2012, partnering with research agencies to develop a global understanding of Antarctica's impacts and vulnerability in a changing global climate. He has been a key advisor to the Department of Conservation and he helped to establish Predator Free NZ.
In 1994, he co-founded Living Earth Ltd – the country's first municipal composting business, diverting thousands of tons of organic waste from landfills and creating high-quality compost for commercial growers, gardeners and farmers.
With operations in Christchurch and Auckland, Living Earth has to date converted nearly two million tons of waste into compost.
In 2008 Fenwick was made Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to conservation. He also has an Honorary Doctorate in Natural Resources from Lincoln University.
Richie McCaw is among the finest captains and players in rugby history. His passionate Kiwi spirit has made him one of New Zealand’s most beloved sporting figures.
In his 14-year professional rugby career McCaw has achieved unrivalled success as a leader and inspirational player. He has led Canterbury provincial, Crusaders Super rugby and All Blacks teams to top-flight success.
As All Blacks captain, McCaw won two Rugby World Cups (2011 and 2015), 10 Bledisloe Cups, four Tri Nations titles and three Rugby Championship trophies. His 148 matches for the All Blacks make him the most capped player of all time, winning 89% of the games in which he played. He captained the All Blacks on a record 111 occasions, leading the team to victory on 98 occasions.
McCaw was named International Rugby Board Player of the Year a record three times, having been nominated on eight occasions.
Off the field Richie devotes much of his time to helping other Kiwis. He has fundraised for the Christchurch rebuild and Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand. As patron of the Catwalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust, McCaw helped raise $200,000 for research into the development of a cure for spinal cord injury.
In 2009, McCaw and fellow All Blacks Dan Carter and Ali Williams set up the For Everyone Charity. Now called iSPORT, it works with schools, and local, regional and national sporting bodies to support young sportspeople and teams to succeed in their chosen fields. It provides a platform for individuals and community sports groups to raise money for essential items such as kit, uniforms, boots, equipment and travel. iSPORT has also recently partnered with Paralympics New Zealand to help young disabled Kiwis excel in sport.
Louise Nicholas is a tireless campaigner for better recognition of victims’ rights and for making the justice system more sympathetic and accessible to victims.
Her story has been well documented through the media, in books and in film. Her strength, courage and determination in the face of adversity has led to significant change in legislation and public attitudes.
Nicholas rose to national prominence when she claimed that, as a teenager in Rotorua, she was the victim of sexual assault by four policemen. Her decision to go public with her story and seek accountability for what happened saw her battle through five court cases. Her case rocked the justice system and, after a 2007 commission of inquiry, senior police were forced to confront how officers treated sexual violence victims.
Since then, Nicholas has dedicated her life to advocating for the prevention of sexual violence and achieving better recognition of victim rights in the justice system. She works with police to improve support for all victims, and her compassion and strength has helped those who struggle to be heard. This work includes promoting changes to name suppression laws.
Earlier this year, she was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the prevention of sexual violence.