2020 Senior New Zealander of the Year Semi-Finalists

15 Dec 2019

Senior of the Year
Senior of the Year

This award honours someone over 70 who, through their achievement and tenacity, has made the world around them a better place. Meet our 10 semi-finalists.

Billy Apple, ONZM, NZ Arts Foundation ICON

Billy Apple

On 22 November 1962 in London, Billy Apple changed his name in a self-branding exercise which gave him the freedom to reinvent himself unencumbered by history. He had effectively become an art brand that had merged art and life, claiming everyday objects (like red and green apples) and life activities (like cleaning and vacuuming) for his art.

Apple began his career as one of the pop generation who studied at the Royal College of Art in London. He had his first solo exhibition at Gallery One, London in 1963 and in 1964 moved across the Atlantic to New York. Several works were curated into the ground-breaking pop art installation American Supermarket, 1964. He then become one of the catalysts in the conceptual art movement, establishing APPLE, (1969 –1973) the second of the seven not-for-profit spaces in New York. Apple has exhibited throughout New York’s museum, dealer gallery and alternative art scenes. Since the early 1980s, Apple has complemented his installation practice with text-based works that draw attention to the network of relations between artist, dealer, and collector. He became a registered trademark in 2007, formalizing his art brand status, and has a project that addresses the legal concept of intellectual property. Currently he is working on art/scientific research projects such as the analysis of his gut microbiome with Dr Justin O’Sullivan; and with marine geologist, Dr Cornel de Ronde, installed a sculptural survey-pin in the Tararua Ranges which defines the Centre of the Extended Continental Shelf of New Zealand, 20012/19.

Billy Apple’s work is held in public collections such as Tate Britain; Scottish National Galleries of Modern Art; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand. He has had over 250 solo exhibitions and has ­­­­been curated into more than 250 largely institutional group shows. Apple’s works have raised more than a million dollars donated to charities and institutions throughout New Zealand. At the age of 83 he continues to act as an ambassador for the visual arts in New Zealand and internationally.

Professor Michael Corballis

Professor Michael Corballis

Professor Michael Corballis is a psychologist and author who has made internationally recognised contributions to behavioural and brain sciences, helping shape our understanding of the human mind and the origins of language, and the psychology of left and right brain.

Michael is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Auckland’s School of Psychology and is advancing and stimulating theories about the human brain – including mounting challenges to the language theories of celebrated thinker Noam Chomsky.

His latest book The Truth about Language, published in 2017, explores the origin of the human language and our unique ability to tell stories, offer explanations, baffle, laugh and lie.

He appears in media and TEDx conferences to talk about his research and theories. His fields of research are cognitive neuroscience, including visual perception, visual imagery, attention, memory and the evolution of language. In the latter, he formulated the theory that human language evolved from gestures. His work has also contributed to recent understanding about the role of genes in producing brain asymmetry.

In 2016 he received the Rutherford Medal of the Royal Society of New Zealand for his work on brain asymmetry (identifying the differences in function between the two cerebral hemispheres), language evolution, and “mental time travel” (the ability to think about the past and future).

Michael was educated at Wanganui Collegiate School. He earned a masters’ degree in mathematics at the University of New Zealand in 1959 and attained a Master of Arts in psychology at the University of Auckland in 1962. He then moved to McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where he gained a PhD in psychology in 1965, and taught in the Department of Psychology from 1968 to 1978. He was appointed professor of psychology at the University of Auckland in 1978.

His other research projects include behavioural studies exploring the relationships of attention, emotion and healthy ageing. Michael is past president of the International Neuropsychological Society and was awarded an ONZM in 2002.

Professor Bob Elliott

Professor Bob Elliott

Former University of Auckland child health researcher, 85-year-old Professor Bob Elliott continues his lifetime of work in child health research and his ongoing search for health innovations.

Living Cell Technologies (LCT) is developing cell-based products to treat life-threatening human diseases such as diabetes and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Professor Elliott discovered potential health links of A2 milk which resulted int e formation of the A2 Milk Corporation.

Professor Elliott (along with Dr Ron Caughey) had the foresight to know that unless we started investing specifically in child health research, New Zealand would drop further down in the OECD health rankings. In 1971, after receiving a grant from Rotary, Prof Elliott and Dr Caughey founded the Child Health Research Foundation, which is today known as Cure Kids, the largest funder of child health research outside the Government. Professor Elliott invented a treatment for a fatal form of congenital heart disease and a newborn screening test for cystic fibrosis – both of which are used to this day worldwide. Today, Cure Kids is currently funding over $10 million across 60 health research projects around New Zealand. In the past 47 years, Cure Kids has invested over $40 million towards research that has made a huge impact in areas such as sudden infant death syndrome, cot death, stillbirth, cystic fibrosis and sudden cardiac death.

Sue Kedgley

Sue Kedgley

Sue Kedgley has been a leading advocate for women since 1971 when she founded the Auckland University Women’s Liberation Group and co-founded the National Organisation for Women in 1972.

Since publishing her best seller, Sexist Society in 1973, Sue has helped to raise awareness and shape attitudes towards gender equality through her involvement in many women’s organisations and by writing four more books on women’s issues and producing/directing four documentaries on gender issues. She is a former President of the Board of UN Women New Zealand and of the National Committee for the Women’s Empowerment Principles.

Sue is also a consumer advocate and member of the Board of Consumer New Zealand, the Consumer Foundation and the Capital and Coast District Health Board.

She was a Green Party MP from 1999 to 2011 and a campaigned for safe, healthy food, animal welfare, aged care, women’s issues, public service broadcasting, and other issues. While in Parliament she chaired Parliament’s Health Select Committee and secured funding for a $12 million Nutrition Fund for schools, an Organics Advisory Service and a National Antibiotic Resistance Surveillance system. Her private members bill, the Flexible Working Hours bill, became law in 2010. She is a former broadcaster, Wellington Regional Councillor and City Councillor. Sue won a Woman of Influence Award in 2016

Many of the opportunities New Zealand women take for granted today were brought about by Sue’s vision, courage, tenacity and leadership.

Lexie Matheson

Lexie Matheson
Lexie Matheson taught in the primary and secondary education service in senior roles (principal, deputy principal, HOD, STJC) for many years before moving into the performing arts where she worked as an award-winning director, writer, actor, teacher and dramaturg in live theatre, dance, film, television and radio for three decades.

As well as working with all New Zealand's professional theatre companies and with Southern Ballet, Lexie managed Troupers Live Theatrix and Stage School and was Artistic Director of The Actors Company of Aotearoa New Zealand between 1980 and 1998. During this period a short-term contract with the Christchurch City Council morphed into nine years during which she was engaged as Inner City Promotions Manager in charge of festivals and events, Executive Officer to the Mayor and TQM Manager responsible for introducing quality management processes across the newly amalgamated councils, after which she travelled overseas to study Shakespeare production in Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

Upon her return to New Zealand, Lexie took up an appointment at The University of Auckland as Business Manager of the Maidment Theatre for eight years, during which time she graduated with a Master of Creative and Performing Arts with honours majoring in arts management. In 2006 she was appointed Senior Lecturer in Event Management at Auckland University of Technology where she created the first academic degree major in event management in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Lexie is a respected theatre critic with over 200 reviews spanning 1980 to 2016, available in various traditional media and online publications.

Currently ranked Nidan (2nd dan, black belt) in Goju Ryu Okinawa Kan karate, Lexie also trains in Okinawan kobudo (weapons) and recently took up kyudo (gendai budō or 'the way of the bow').

Lexie was honoured by the Crown in the 2016 Queen's Birthday Honours List where she was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the performing arts, education and LGBTQI rights.

Lexie Matheson, who has fought for transgender equality for more than 20 years, has supported members of the community struggling against all manner of opposition. Lexie featured in Margie Thomson’s newly released book "Womankind", featuring 50 New Zealand women "making a difference" in 2019.

Pratima Nand, QSM JP

Pratima Nand

Pratima is a well-qualified, highly skilled, committed, multi-lingual professional. She has contributed her services in her professional capacity as an interpreter and translator in Fiji Hindi, Hindi and Urdu languages for 21 years to organisations such as DHBs, District Courts, Ministries, NZ Police, law firms and SERCO. She voluntarily contributed to the translation of the Treaty of Waitangi, both English and Maori versions, in Hindi language among 20 other languages for Treaty Times Thirty to mark the celebration of NZSTI's 30th anniversary.

Pratima worked for Richmond New Zealand and Challenge Trust for five years as a Mental Health Worker for clients in residential care, networking with government organizations, NGOs and community agencies and providing culturally appropriate service in supporting clients and preparing them to live independently in the community. As a banker, she has worked for several different Banks in Fiji and New Zealand, holding positions of Public Relations Manager, Manager of Foreign Exchange and Mortgage Manager.

She was a Founding member, President, Liaison Officer and elected spokesperson for Fiji Women’s Society Inc, providing support to victims of domestic violence and helping Fijians to receive medical services in New Zealand. She also served on the Committee of Management for Roskill Together, a Mt Roskill/Puketapapa specific community-led development project, for three years and is a member of the Ethnic People’s Advisory panel.

Pratima has been serving Auckland’s Indian community as a Justice of the Peace and a Marriage Celebrant since 1996. She also serves as a nominated person for the juvenile for NZ Police.

She pioneered an Indian cooking show on Triangle TV and hosted TV shows for 10 years in a voluntary capacity. Her personal charity project inspired her to produce New Zealand’s first interactive DVD on authentic Indian cooking, three cookbooks and three devotional CDs, proceeds of which go to the children of Fiji for their education.

Professor John Ormiston

Dr John Ormiston

Professor John Ormiston worked for more than 30 years as an interventional cardiologist for the Auckland District Health Board and is a founder member of the Auckland Heart Group.

He has been New Zealand's most experienced interventional cardiologist, introducing many new technologies to New Zealand, including TAVI (transcather aortic valve implantation). His international reputation is founded on bench testing and clinical trials of new cardiac devices, areas in which he is widely published.

John is an invited speaker at interventional meetings worldwide, a past president of the Asia Pacific Society for Interventional Cardiology, a former member of the Interventional Scientific Council of the American College of Cardiology, and an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London). In addition, John has sat on the scientific advisory board of two cardiology device companies and helps to organise the three major international interventional meetings annually. He was instrumental in developing Mercy Angiography, called Intra, the country's busiest private cardiac facility where he has been the medical director since its establishment almost 30 years ago.

John has introduced many new techniques and technologies including the world’s first implantation of a fully bioresorbable drug-eluting stent, the first transcatheter aortic valve implantation in the Asia Pacific region and the first New Zealand renal denervation for hypertension. His research has involved clinical studies and he is internationally known for his bench testing of cardiological devices. He has published widely, with more than 200 scientific papers in peer reviewed journals.

John was awarded an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to medicine in 2011.

In 2017 he was received the Ethica Award which is the supreme European Award for interventional cardiology, and in 2019 received the Asia Pacific Life Time Achievement Award in interventional cardiology.

Miriam Saphira

Miriam Saphira

Miriam Saphira is an artist and writer and highly respected member of the Lesbian community. She has exhibited in many group exhibitions and has had 23 solo exhibitions in New Zealand, London, France and Germany. She has nine books published and has edited two anthologies. Miriam was artist in residence at Hamilton in 2000. She has received five awards and two life memberships for her work in the community. The mediums Miriam uses include oil painting, etching, and some three-dimensional work including bronzes and glass. She has received four awards for her work in the community.

She has been the honorary secretary and fund raiser for the Charlotte Museum in New Lynn, West Auckland for the past 14 years. The Charlotte Museum preserves lesbian cultural material for the benefit of future generations and aims to reduce homophobia and suicide. She takes a pop-up version of the museum around New Zealand with her performance “I AM”.

Miriam Saphira began her volunteer work in 1958 as a committee member of the Inglewood country girls, then Kindergarten committees, University Creche secretary, and with Broadsheet, encouraging older women to go to University. Her work in Women’s Refuge and employed work in Mt Eden prison with violent offenders led her to research violence and write” The Sexual Abuse of Children” followed by more books and many workshops. Later research into underage prostitution, lesbian health and vicarious traumatisation influenced her artwork and writing in a variety of mediums.

Dame Margaret June Sparrow

Dame Margaret Sparrow.

Dame Margaret Sparrow started her career in health working at the student health centre at Victoria University of Wellington in the late 1960s. At the time, the clinic would only allow contraception to be given to married couples, so she went against the wishes of the director of the clinic and put up an information display about contraception. While working at the clinic, student demand for contraception led to her introducing the morning after pill and helping students to obtain abortions. She worked as a medical officer at Student Health until 1981. Between 1977 and 1999 she worked as a visiting venereologist at Wellington Hospital.

Margaret was the president of the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand from 1975 to 1980, and again from 1984 until 2011.

She is a Director of Istar Ltd, a not-for-profit company that imports the abortion pill mifepristone from France. The pill was approved for use in 2001 and allowed women to have medical, rather than surgical, abortions for the first time.

Dame Margaret was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire, for services to medicine and the community, and in 1993 she was awarded the New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal. In 2002 she was appointed a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to medicine and the community, and in 2009 she accepted re-designation as a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

The family planning clinic in Wellington is named after Dame Margaret. Margaret was a keen collector of contraceptive devices, which were later donated to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. In 2015–16, Te Papa used them as the core of an exhibition on contraception.

Dame Margaret continues to publish and lead education on Family Planning for New Zealand.

Dr Rosamund Vallings

Dr Rosamund Vallings

Rosamund (Ros) Vallings, MNZM, MB BS (Lond), MRCS LRCP, Dip Clin Hyp, BA (Massey) (born 1938), is one of the leading authorities on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) in New Zealand. She has run a medical practice in Howick, Auckland since 1966, and over the past 35 years it has become specialised with most patients suffering from ME/CFS, and related conditions.

Dr Vallings is involved with managing and diagnosing patients who have been referred by general practitioners and specialists from around New Zealand. She also runs regular seminars for both patients and practitioners, has written three books, produced educational booklets and information sheets to help with the understanding and management of the complex symptoms that make up the condition ME/CFS.

In 2011, Dr Vallings was one of the authors of the case definition for the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis International Consensus Criteria. In 2014 she co-authored the Clinicians’ Guide to CFS, and in 2017 a Paediatric Clinicians’ Guide. She has also been recently involved in setting up online Clinical Pathways for NZ practitioners.

Dr Vallings continues to serve the ME/CFS and medical communities voluntarily in a number of roles. In the past these have included: Assistant Medical Director of the Auckland Family Planning Association; Board member of the Macleans College; Board member of the IACFS; Editorial board member of the International Journal of CFS; President of the New Zealand Society of Hypnosis, and as past President and current Medical Advisor to ANZMES – the national organisation supporting those with CFS/ME.

In January 2008, Rosamund was awarded Membership of the NZ Order of Merit for services to CFS/ME in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours. Rosamund was also awarded the Nelson Gantz Outstanding Clinician Award by the IACFS/ME at their biennial conference in October 2016.

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