Introducing your 2022 Semi-Finalists

6 Dec 2021

In another year of uncertainty and lockdowns, from thousands of nominations these inspiring 70 Semi-Finalists across seven Award categories were a guiding light. Each having an outstanding impact on Aotearoa and leading boldly by example – their trailblazing innovations, commitment, selflessness, and vision make us proud to call New Zealand home.

Without further ado, introducing your 2022 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards Ngā Tohu Pou Kōhure o Aotearoa Semi-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 Judith Anne Kilpatrick DNZM (Auckland)
Dame Judith Anne Kilpatrick spent her career in nursing and is a pioneer of the field, in 2021 she was made a Dame Companion for services to nursing education, and has raised the standards and knowledge of the profession.

Dame Valerie Adams DNZM (Auckland)
Dame Valerie Adams is known internationally for her strength and character on and off the shot put field; she has won 107 world events and received her fourth Olympic medal at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Professor Michael Baker MNZM (Wellington)
Professor, leading researcher, and Science Communicator of the Year, Professor Michael Baker, has been a reassuring, measured voice during the Covid-19 pandemic, influencing Government policy, and sharing his epidemiology expertise with the public in an easy and helpful way.

Hon Kiri Allan (Gisborne)
Kiri Allan is the East Coast MP and Minister for Conservation and Emergency Management and is known for publicly addressing her cancer diagnosis and encouraging others to get tested.

Judge Andrew Becroft (Wellington)
Judge Andrew Becroft was the Children’s Commissioner for six years, ending his tenure in 2021; the former Principal Youth Court Judge has been vocal in his calls for bold action on child poverty, reform of the care and protection system and a raising of the minimum age of criminal responsibility. He is a tireless campaigner for the rights of children. 

Lisa Carrington MNZM (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.

Lyall Thurston QSO JP (Rotorua)
Lyall Thurston campaigned for the inclusion of folic acid in bread products for more than 30 years, securing his goal in 2021, his work will help reduce neural tube defects (NTDs) in New Zealand babies.

Melissa Vining (Southland)
Melissa Vining is an advocate for better and equitable health services for all New Zealanders; motivated by the loss of her husband Blair to bowel cancer, she’s set up a Charity Hospital delivering free colonoscopies to prevent the further loss of life for the people of Otago & Southland.

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 Semi-Finalists here



Abbas Nazari (Christchurch)
Abbas Nazari’s journey as a refugee from Afghanistan to New Zealand at the age of seven is harrowing, but in equal measure the success he’s achieved since then is astonishing.

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.

Josiah Tavita Tualamali'I (Christchurch)
Josiah Tualamali’i is a young mental health activator and leader, he works hard and speaks up to ensure Pacific perspectives and needs are met.

Pania Newton (Auckland)
Pania Newton became the face of a new generation of activists during the occupation at Ihumātao, her unwavering commitment to protect her whenua ignited complex conversations and raised awareness of the land’s rich history.

Rangipo Takuira-Mita (Tauranga)
Rangipo Takuira-Mita is a young innovator working with a group of environmental leaders to inspire the restoration of tupuna mātauranga, encouraging caring communities that nurture nature.

Sophie Pascoe (Christchurch)
Sophie Pascoe is a top athlete, winning 11 Paralympic gold medals and four Commonwealth gold medals. She has shown New Zealanders that any set-back is surmountable..

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.

Tayla Nasmith (Auckland)
At just 12 years old, Tayla Nasmith started a charity for mothers to be. Partnering with Police and midwives, Tayla works to provide essentials for those in greatest need.

Zak Devey (Huapai)
Zak Devey’s mahi is helping young prisoners be creative and self-reflective with writing. The university student runs creative writing workshops at Mt Eden Prison to support the hauora of young men.

Read more about these Semi-Finalists here



Boyd Klap CNZM QSO (Wellington)
Touring the Anne Frank exhibition throughout New Zealand, Boyd Klap has worked hard to promote inclusive communities and to end discrimination.

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.

Erin ONeill (Tauranga)
Erin ONeill understands the effects of addiction on family members: she runs Brave Hearts NZ – Manawa Kaha Aotearoa – a support network for whanau and friends with a loved in in addiction.

Hansa Naran (Auckland)
A strong presence in her Manukau community, Hansa Naran has spent decades using her voice to speak up for the rights of others, in 2021 she has been busy as a translator for the Indian community, an advocate for gender equality, and a fundraiser for Covid-19 relief support.

Murdoch Ross (Whangārei)
Murdoch Ross is a visionary who’s turned his ideas into action, championing the development of numerous community facilities in his home town of Whangārei.

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.

Pat Macaulay (Mosgiel)
Pat Macaulay is a stalwart supporter of rural New Zealand, for more than 50 years she has volunteered, championed and fundraised for rural and farming communities.

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

Te Warihi Hetaraka (Whangārei)
Te Warihi Hetaraka’s work in the arts as a leader, adviser and practitioner has centred around passing on mātauranga Māori traditional knowledge systems.

Terry Foster (Auckland)
Terry Foster is a pioneer of community-led housing, his work with not-for-profit housing provider, Abbeyfield New Zealand, has changed the landscape for retired living options.

Read more about these Semi-Finalists here



Angus Brown
Angus Brown is the founder of neuroscience developed brain food, Ārepa, a drink proven to enhance cognitive function.

Brianne West (Canterbury)
Brianne West has changed the face of beauty products the world over, establishing the regenerative beauty and personal care brand, Ethique, that fosters scientific innovation while remaining firmly focused on protecting the planet.

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.

Grace Glass (Christchurch)
Grace Glass established Natural Paint Co to change the status quo, creating healthy paints for homes, people and the environment.

Inu Akerei Maresala-Thomson (Waikato)
Inu Akerei Maresala-Thomson is the founder of MYRIVR, a social good, community app that connects users with 8,000 health and social services around the country.

Kevin Halsall (Otaki)
Kevin Halsall is a determined inventor, whose explorative approach to design has helped create a hands-free, off-road, mobility scooter; the Omeo is taking off around the world, changing wheelchair users' lives by giving them the opportunity to get outdoors independently and with ease.

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.

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.

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.

Sarah Brown (Christchurch)
Sarah Brown is a communications specialist, who alongside husband Matt Brown, runs ‘She’s not your rehab’, the social movement promoting violence free communities and changing men's lives.

Read more about these Semi-Finalists here



Brianne West (Christchurch)
Brianne West has changed the face of beauty products the world over, establishing the regenerative beauty and personal care brand, Ethique, that fosters scientific innovation while remaining firmly focused on protecting the planet.

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.

Courtney Davies (Auckland)
Courtney Davies is a young agricultural hero working to educate, support and develop cutting edge science to sustainably grow New Zealand’s agribusiness industry.

Deborah Manning (Auckland)
Deborah Manning was a lawyer when she changed her career a decade ago to establish KiwiHarvest, a food rescue organisation that has redirected six million kilos of edible nutritious food destined for landfill to people in need.

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.

Joe Youssef (Auckland)
Joe Youssef is the Founder and Chief Encourager of All Heart NZ, which works to provide a practical sustainability solution for business throughout Aotearoa to Redirect, Repurpose and Reduce all aspect of waste.

Kaya Freeman (Wellington)
Kaya Freeman is a young environmentalist making an impact with her leadership of Forest & Bird Youth, restoring wild places and wildlife.

Professor Bronwyn Hayward MNZM (Christchurch)
University of Canterbury Professor, Bronwyn Hayward, is an esteemed academic, whose work on climate change, sustainability and youth politics has been influential globally. She was a lead author on the UN’s IPCC Special Report on 1.5C and is a member of the IPCC’s core writing team

Sam Gibson (Gisborne)
An excellent communicator and innovative researcher, Sam Gibson is a conservationist who inspires others. Striking a balance between matauranga Māori and Western practice, he leads significant restoration projects.

Read more about these Semi-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.

Energise Ōtaki
Energise Ōtaki supports the Ōtaki community to achieve a sustainable and affordable energy future, including offsetting climate impacts from the town’s energy consumption.

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.

New Zealand Falcons
The New Zealand Falcons are a gay and inclusive rugby team providing an environment for everyone to participate in rugby. The team's kaupapa of manaakitanga and whanaungatanga embraces players to be confident and be themselves while focusing on fun and personal development.

Te Rarawa Noho Taiao group
Te Rarawa’s Noho Taiao is an intensive, hands-on science hui for young people, the kaupapa aims to increase the number of rangatahi Māori pursuing careers in science, environmental sustainability, technology and business.

Para Kore Marae
Para Kore Marae’s innovative education programme, with community waste expert Jacqui Forbes at the helm, supports iwi, hapu and whānau to create a zero waste, carbon-neutral future for Aotearoa.

Perfectly Imperfect Charitable Trust
Perfectly Imperfect salvages fresh fruit and vegetables otherwise deemed too unattractive for market, and in the process supports growers and gifts nutritious food to people in need.

Soldiers Rd - Taaniko and Vienna Nordstrom
Taaniko and Vienna Nordstrom’s project, Behind the Wire, takes the portraits of men in prison and provides an uplifting experience that helps shift their self-perception.

Supreme Sikh Society of New Zealand
The Supreme Sikh Society builds community facilities, runs food banks and connects people with support in tough times; its volunteers open their hearts and resources to the community around them.

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 Semi-Finalists here



Alice Mander (Wellington)
Alice Mander is a law student, activist and writer. Her reflections on living with a disability offer insight into the disparities that exist in the world, she is a vocal student politician and is effecting change on campus.

Brendon Warne (Auckland)
Brendon Warne is a drug-free campaigner and the founder of the Anti-P Ministry, an organisation that has helped thousands of former addicts become addiction-free. In sharing his own battles with meth he has helped others overcome their dependencies.

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.

Deborah Manning (Auckland)
Deborah Manning was a lawyer when she changed her career a decade ago to establish KiwiHarvest, a food rescue organisation that has redirected six million kilos of edible nutritious food destined for landfill to people in need.

Matt Dagger (Wellington)
The General Manager of Kaibosh, Matt Dagger has been leading food rescue efforts for the past 10 years; and is known for raising awareness of food waste and finding new, creative solutions to prevent food loss and fight food insecurity. He is the Chair of the Aotearoa Food Rescue Alliance.

Panapa Te Wheru Ehau (Gisborne)
Panapa Te Wheru Ehau is the Co-Founder and Director of both Hikurangi Enterprises (local sustainable economic development) and Rua Bioscience (pharmaceutical cannabis). With expertise in social enterprise, he is on a mission to increase the well-being of whanau and whenua through sustainable economic development in Tairāwhiti.

Sian Neary (Auckland)
The General Manager of Auckland’s Graeme Dingle Foundation, Sian Neary looks after 42 staff members who support 9,000 tamariki in the region. During lockdown Sian was instrumental in creating the Tamariki Talks programmes, providing educational content for Papa Kāinga TV.

Te Warihi Kokowai Hetaraka (Whangārei)
Te Warihi Kokowai Hetaraka was Pou Whakahaere at Te Puni Kōkiri for ten years, he is a senior New Zealand artist and cultural leader; committed to developing and sharing matauranga Māori, he is an esteemed teacher and mentor.

Read more about these Semi-Finalists here

Where to from here?

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 31 March 2022 in Tāmaki Makaurau.

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