Introducing your 2022 Finalists

22 Feb 2022

These Finalists are our nation's game changers, inspiring leaders, and grand thinkers. Their commitment, selflessness, and vision uplift us to see a brighter future for Aotearoa and reflect the kind of Kiwi we aspire to be – and we couldn’t be prouder to acknowledge their impact

With great pride and excitement, we are honoured to introduce your 2022 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards Ngā Tohu Pou Kōhure o Aotearoa Finalists.

We hope you'll join us in celebrating these 21 incredible New Zealanders. Together, they have made it from our long list – from thousands of public nominations – to the final three within the seven Award categories.

Introducing your 2022 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards Ngā Tohu Pou Kōhure o Aotearoa Finalists. Use the links below to read their incredible stories.


Dame Hinewehi Mohi DNZM (Havelock North)
Singer, songwriter and producer, Hinewehi Mohi is an artist of iconic status, who has championed the development of bilingual music, television production, music therapy and advocacy for te reo and tikanga Māori.

Dame Lisa Carrington DNZM (Auckland)
Flatwater sprint kayaker, Lisa Carrington, became New Zealand’s most decorated Olympian after winning three gold medals at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics; her skill and hard work have made her one of New Zealand’s most successful and high-profile sports people.

Tā Tipene O'Regan (Canterbury)
Tā Tipene O'Regan is known for his work in Ngāi Tahu’s Treaty Settlement, as an educator and as a public figure whose life has been dedicated to building an inclusive, bicultural nation.

Read more about these Finalists here



Ezra Hirawani (Hamilton)
Ezra Hirawani started his own power company to provide electricity to the many New Zealanders living in energy hardship, and against the odds, he has compelled the industry to make systemic change.

Jacinta Gulasekharam (Wellington)
Jacinta Gulasekharam is a social entrepreneur who is using candour and positivity to end period poverty. Her work has helped provide thousands of free period products to young people in need, and secured free products for school students.

Stan Walker (Whanganui)
Stan Walker is a New Zealand musician who aims to use his voice to keep te reo Māori alive and promote all the gifts of te ao Māori.

Read more about these Finalists here



Dr Murray Heasley (Auckland)
A campaigner for sexual abuse survivors, Dr Murray Heasley has helped numerous New Zealanders seek justice and gain acknowledgement of their experiences.

Ngatuakana O-Rangi Wichman (Auckland)
Ngatuakana O-Rangi Wichman is a force in her community, she ensures people are provided with practical items such as food and clothing, and by teaching life-skills and self-sufficiency.

Rereata Mākiha (Northland)
Rereata Mākiha believes in the power of sharing knowledge and using oral traditions - korero-tuku-iho to connect and educate the next generation.

Read more about these Finalists here



Cameron Smith (Auckland)
Take2 founder and CEO, Cameron Smith is changing the face of the tech sector. Running web development training courses for prisoners, he connects them with internships that lead to jobs and is reducing reoffending massively in the process.

Mark Sagar PhD FRSNZ (Auckland)
CEO of Soul Machines, Mark Sagar is leading the way for intelligent, AI design. From his R&D lab in Auckland, he is generating an international reputation as a pioneer in the field.

Saia Latu (Auckland)
Saia Latu is an entrepreneur and founder of TROW Group, a deconstruction and waste management company that supports environmentally sustainable repurposing of construction materials.

Read more about these Finalists here



Charmaine Bailie (Auckland)
Described as a force of nature, Charmaine Bailie is an ecologist overseeing numerous large-scale environmental restoration projects. She uses her skills, humour and energy to support people and the whenua.

Hayden Smith (Auckland)
Hayden Smith started Sea Cleaners 19 years ago, and it’s been cleaning tons of rubbish from our oceans five days a week, ever since.

Jacqui Forbes (Raglan)
A community waste expert, Jacqui Forbes is passionate about zero waste; she runs the innovative Para Kore Marae education programme to support iwi, hapū and whānau to create a zero-waste future for Aotearoa.

Read more about these Finalists here



Dignity was created by Miranda Hitchings and Jacinta Gulasekharam to provide free period products in Aotearoa. Sixty-two workplaces now support Dignity’s Buy-one, Give-one initiative that helps thousands of people living in period poverty.

Matakaoa Community
The Matakaoa community worked together to keep Covid-19 out of its town, uniting in a shared purpose to keep people safe, they achieved exemplary vaccination rates.

The Polynesian Panther Party
The Polynesian Panther Party has been advocating for Pasifika rights for fifty years, and is considered a leader in community-based activism.

Read more about these Finalists here



Caroline Herewini MNZM (Porirua)
Caroline Herewini is a human rights advocate committed to ending family violence; she is the Chief Executive of the Te Whare Tiaki Wāhine Refuge and has led the organisation for 20 years.

Dame Areta Koopu DNZM (Auckland)
Dame Areta Koopu is an activist and advocate for women’s health; a former Māori Women's Welfare League President, Human Rights Commissioner and a Waitangi Tribunal member she is an outstanding thinker and leader within New Zealand.

Dave Letele (Henderson)
Dave Letele is the founder of the not-for-profit Brown Buttabean Motivation programme – a free, gym-based weight-loss programme that has inspired thousands of New Zealanders to get fit and get healthy.

Read more about these Finalists here

Where to from here?

Get your viewing party together, because the 2022 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards Gala Dinner is going digital! Covid may have put a damper on our dreams of a spectacular event, but nothing can stop the good times from rolling on. Thanks to our friends at TVNZ, we’re throwing a pandemic-friendly digital celebration of the very best of Aotearoa in the year that was.

Be one of the first in the country to set your sights on the 2022 Winners on Thursday, 31 March on from the comfort of your own home. Keep an eye on our socials for more details

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