Semi-finalists confirmed 2019 Kiwibank Awards

28 Dec 2018

The New Zealander of the Year Awards are pleased to announce the semi-finalists of the 2019 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards

The 10 semi-finalists for 2019 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year are -

Lisa King (Auckland)

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As founder of Eat My Lunch, social entrepreneur Lisa King is on a mission to ensure no child in New Zealand goes hungry. At the same time, she is challenging traditional concepts of business and charity.

Launched in 2015, Eat My Lunch is one of New Zealand’s most impactful and popular social enterprises. The unique business model has helped thousands of ordinary New Zealanders contribute to feeding children through purchasing their lunch through Eat My Lunch. For every lunch purchased, a free lunch is delivered to a child at a low-decile school.

Since 2015, the enterprise has enjoyed incredible success ever since. In just three years, the residential kitchen operation has grown to an enterprise that makes, packages and distributes 2700 lunches every day to children in 92 low-decile schools in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington.

More than 12,000 Kiwis have volunteered to make, pack and deliver a million lunches.

Lisa launched Eat My Lunch with the belief that clever business solutions can solve big social issues and make a positive impact in the community. Her creative thinking, courage and sheer determination has shown that this unique business model can be adopted successfully in New Zealand.

With her commercial acumen, Lisa has secured high-profile investors including media and marketing entrepreneur Derek Handley and Foodstuffs, as well as key corporate partnerships with likes of Air NZ, Spark, Coca-Cola Amatil and Z Energy. She has also managed to secure the Hurricanes Super Rugby team, Paralympian Liam Malone and boxer Joseph Parker as official ambassadors

Eat My Lunch has been a Deloitte Fast 50 Rising Star category winner for two consecutive years. In 2015 it won the Excellence in Social Innovation category at the New Zealand Innovation Awards and the Westpac Regional Supreme Business Excellence Award in 2016.

Lisa has earned plenty of well-deserved recognition for her work. This includes being named EY Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist 2018 and receiving the Young Enterprise Distinguished Alumni, Women of Influence in Business Enterprise and Community awards. She as a finalist in the NEXT Woman of the Year Awards 2016.

She was awarded Kiwibank Local Hero Awards in 2015 and 2016.

Mike King (Auckland)

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Mental health advocate Mike King shines much-needed light on the serious issues of depression, alcohol and drug abuse and suicide in New Zealand.

By drawing on his own personal experiences, Mike has shown leadership, courage and empathy to vulnerable people – particularly Maori, children and young people – throughout the country. He has helped schools develop the skills and channels to have open conversations with students and remove the “Kiwi bloke” stigma around asking for help.

In 2009, King started a Radio Live programme airing on Sunday evenings called The Nutters Club. On the programme, King worked with mental health professionals David Codyre and Malcolm Falconer, inviting listeners to phone in with comments and share stories or issues which might be troubling callers. In 2013, The Nutters Club moved to Newstalk ZB.

The driving force behind the Key to Life Charitable Trust, which has a long-term ambition to achieve a zero-suicide rate in New Zealand, Mike works tirelessly to change the way Kiwis think, act and feel about mental health and suicide. By working seamlessly with mental health professionals, service providers, business leaders, schools and community organisations, Mike and the trust are inspiring hope for people in need.

The trust is currently developing a strength-based, youth-led peer support and mentoring programme using Key to Life ambassadors in schools. The intention is to help young people take ownership of their attitudes and perceptions toward mental health issues by building quality relationships. The trust is providing additional support to these ambassadors through establishing comprehensive support networks with local businesses, health and service providers, iwi, whanau and hapu.

Earlier this year, Mike and trust supporters completed the I Am Hope Aotearoa Tour, a scooter ride and school tour across New Zealand to raise awareness and money. During the 3500km ride Mike delivered 70 talks to more than 20,000 people and raising $76,000 for the trust.

Appointed to a government panel on suicide prevention in 2015, Mike later quit the panel, citing serious concerns and flaws about methods he believed would not address the crisis. At the time, he said the system was underfunded and under-resourced, accusing health professionals of over-medicating patients as a stop-gap measure rather than addressing the root cause of depression and suicide.

As well as his tireless work preventing suicide, Mike has also highlighted the poor treatment of farmed animals in New Zealand. For seven years he was the spokesman for New Zealand Pork, presenting TV commercials showcasing quick-fix meals using pork known as Mike's Meals. However, in May 2009 he spoke out against the factory farming of pigs.

Forthright and passionate, Mike has the absolute courage of his convictions and is prepared to take a stand on the crisis situation of suicide in New Zealand.

Dr Marewa Glover (Auckland)

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Dr Marewa Glover is a behavioural scientist with over 25 years’ experience in helping improve the health of indigenous populations.

Marewa specialises in indigenous and kaupapa Māori health research methodology and qualitative analysis. She is New Zealand’s foremost expert in developing pragmatic public health interventions to be delivered within indigenous communities.

In addition to tobacco control, Marewa has researched and advocated for new public health interventions to tackle issues such as obesity and interpersonal violence.

She has helped lead global change as to how tobacco harm reduction is assessed in the academic world and how governments and public health organisations can deploy tobacco control initiatives to reduce harm in indigenous communities.

An ardent critic of public health policies that disproportionately impoverish Maori, Marewa advocates for an enlightened approach to tobacco harm reduction policy. She is driven to find better and faster ways to reduce diseases and early death caused by smoking tobacco because, at 42%, her fellow indigenous Māori women have the highest smoking rates in New Zealand.

Marewa is one of New Zealand’s foremost advocates for helping smokers’ transition to less harmful e-cigarettes, with the goal of ending smoking once and for all in New Zealand. From her own experience working with Maori women to transition to e-cigarettes, she has bridged the academic world with what is happening in the real-world communities.

Marewa was one of the first tobacco harm reduction experts in New Zealand to break the academic consensus on tobacco harm reduction policy. Undeterred by criticism from the New Zealand academic establishment, Marewa’s research and public advocacy for Maori and Pacific people has helped create a global consensus on e-cigarettes and the role they could play in ending smoking.

Earlier this year, Marewa launched a Centre of Research Excellence on Indigenous Sovereignty and Smoking. The centre has an international focus and will be partnering with indigenous organisations and researchers around the world to investigate rapidly reducing tobacco smoking among their people.

From a public health policy standpoint, her work has helped ensure the voices of Maori, Pacific and e-cigarette communities are being heard. A true agent of change, she is leading health professionals and academics to rethink traditional harm reduction tools and the disproportionate affect on Maori and Pacific.

She is recognised internationally for her advocacy on tobacco harm reduction and was a recipient of an Outstanding Advocate Award from the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO) at the 2018 Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw.

Marewa was a Professor of Public Health at Massey University and Chair of End Smoking New Zealand. In 2017, she was a finalist in the Women of Influence Awards.

Annah Stretton (Hamilton)

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Annah Stretton is a fashion designer, entrepreneur and philanthropist whose vision and leadership is helping address a serious social problem, benefitting women, their children and whanau, and the wider community.

Reclaim Another Woman (RAW) is an entirely privately funded social enterprise that transitions female recidivist offenders from a life of crime to a life of promise through education, employment and intensive mentoring support.

RAW’s model is based the principles of education and compassion, for prisoners to be better supported to learn and build confidence to be up-standing citizens and for forgiveness to be embedded in the communities they live in.

The first objective of RAW is to work with heavily recidivist female criminals in women's prisons throughout the country, creating vision and purpose for women the country has written off. Longer term, Annah’s vision is to reframe the prison culture from one that implicitly supports and encourages all the anti-social behaviours that landed the women into jail in the first place, to one that inspires hope and fuels individual growth.

RAW’s unique model provides support and mentoring both inside and outside the prison. While in prison, inmates can initially take part in weekly lifestyle and academic workshops that engage, motivate and create hope. The second phase is designed to spark vocational and career interests for inmates to pursue.

RAW is currently developing entrepreneurial programmes in conjunction with Waikato University and will be fully funded and supported by Waikato University.

The final phase is a network of support in the community offered to inmates serious about reintegrating back into the community. The multi-layered level of support begins on the inside with Parole Hearing Support and then moves beyond the prison gates with safe accommodation based in the Waikato, education scholarships with either Wintec or Waikato University and the potential for part-time employment opportunities.

RAW has achieved tremendous success in changing the lives of women who have historically reoffended after leaving prison. At the beginning of 2018, of the 36 offenders who had participated, no one has gone back to jail for amplified crime and the organisations is close to 100 per cent success.

The Department of Corrections has described RAW as a breakthrough reintegration model with an unparalleled record of success.

Lesley Elliott (Dunedin)

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Lesley Elliott drew on tragedy to establish and run the Sophie Elliott Foundation, named after her daughter, Sophie, who was murdered seven years ago. The foundation promotes violence prevention through education, awareness and empowerment of young women.

Following the death of Sophie at the hands of a former boyfriend, it became clear that she had been in a typically abusive relationship.

It was also evident that neither Sophie nor Lesley had been able to see where things were going wrong. The conclusion was that if these two intelligent adults couldn’t see the signs then many others would be in the same situation. That insight served as Lesley’s drive to set up the Sophie Elliott Foundation and Loves-Me-Not.

In partnership with the Police and the Ministry of Social Development, Loves-Me-Not works with schools to provide one-day workshops for Year 12 students to explore healthy relationships and the difficult subject of relationship abuse and consent. The foundation provides a range of resources for Loves-Me-Not, including videos and short vignettes that are used during the workshop.

The workshop component of Loves-Me-Not is delivered by up to three facilitators trained by Police. The facilitators comprise a teacher and a police officer and can include a representative of a non-governmental organisation working in the field of family violence prevention. The workshop is linked to the New Zealand curriculum, so that schools and students are still achieving educational outcomes, whilst looking at an important social issue.

Lesley has written a book based around Sophie’s story, which shows how to recognise signs of abuse, and provides strategies to cope. The book is supplied free-of-charge to students undertaking Loves-Me-Not and can be used in future years to give young people sound advice.

Judge Andrew Becroft (Wellington)

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Andrew Becroft has been a tireless advocate for children and young people throughout his long career.

First appointed a District Court judge in 1996, he became the Principal Youth Court Judge of New Zealand in 2001, a role he held until 2016 when he was appointed Children’s Commissioner.

As principal Youth Court judge he was strongly committed to a specialist approach to dealing with youth and child offenders. Throughout his career he has been a vocal and passionate advocate for children and young people, often doing so in the media.

That advocacy has been recognised by many. He was named Communicator of the Year by the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand in 2009 and received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Auckland in 2010.

As Children’s Commissioner he has continued his strong advocacy for young people. He recently called on politicians to “undo 30 years of damage” and has said that statistics show that “something is fundamentally wrong with how New Zealand treats children.”

This year he also called for state care and protection residences to be phased out, and for smoking in cars to be banned.

Born in Malaysia, Judge Becroft graduated from Auckland University in 1981. He practised in Auckland with the firm Fortune Manning & Partners before helping found the Mangere Community Law Centre in 1986. He worked there until 1993, when he became a criminal barrister in South Auckland. In 1996 he was appointed to the District Court bench, sitting in Whanganui.

Andrew is a former council member of the Auckland District Law Society and the New Zealand Law Society. He is an editor of LexisNexis “Transport Law”, the Patron of the New Zealand Speak Easy Association., which assists those with various forms of speech impediment, Chair of the Board of the Tertiary Students Christian Fellowship (NZ) Inc, and Chair of the Wellington College Football Club.

He is married with three children. A keen sports watcher, he confesses he is only an average (but enthusiastic) participant. He has been affected by stuttering all his life.

Robert Bruce (Auckland)

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Robert Bruce is the entrepreneurial, outdoor-loving founder of Got To Get Out, a social enterprise designed to get people active and outdoors, seeing the world and making friends.

Robert launched Got To Get Out as a passion project in 2015 while hiking in the Himalayas. Its vision is to inspire “Kiwis and internationals to get active, outdoors, seeing the world and make friends.”

The organisation has grown into a full social enterprise – meaning it has to trade to keep itself going, rather than solely relying on grants and donations.

The organisation keeps costs low by attracting sponsors and volunteers. For example, GridAKL supplies office space and Toyota Financial Services has supplied a van to get the community outdoors. Volunteers run the organisation.

Robert has helped more than 3500 to collectively burn several million calories by staging more than 300 trips around New Zealand. Many trips are free or operate on “cost recovery” so that money isn’t a barrier to getting people into nature to overcome health and wellness issues.

Got To Get Out has also run tree-planting events and beach clean-ups, collaborated with Sustainable Coastlines, No Beers Who Cares and other groups, and has partnerships with ATEED, GridAKL, Toyota, Macpac and others.

Prior to Got To Get Out, Robert founded a marketing and brand agency SublimeNZ, which was ranked one of the fastest growing New Zealand companies at the Deloitte Fast 50 awards (2012) and also was a finalist in the AUT Excellence In Business Support awards 2014. More recently, Robert was Director of Special Initiatives at the Auckland University of Technology. He also has raised funds and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation and The Himalayan Trust.

Robert was a Peter Blake Dream Team ambassador in 2017.

Stacey Shortall (Wellington)

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Stacey Shortall is a lawyer who has developed several projects designed to create social change.

A partner at MinterEllisonRuddWatts, Stacey has over 20 years’ experience as a litigator in leading New Zealand and New York law firms.

While practicing in New York, Stacey also worked pro bono on many cases, including for imprisoned mothers facing termination of their parental rights because they were behind bars, domestic violence victims who were serving time for being involved in the death of their abusers, refugee women who were fleeing abuse, and impoverished mothers seeking to have their children returned from foster care. In 2004 Stacey spent a month-long sabbatical working in Ghana for a NGO focussed on violence against women and girls including through village outreach programmes. She also volunteered for the Ghanaian Police Force to assist with investigations and prosecutions of rapists.

After returning home, Stacey established the “Who Did You Help Today” Charitable Trust and sought to use her offshore experiences to create projects that would better connect people with opportunities to make a positive difference in New Zealand.

In 2014, using volunteers from MinterEllisonRuddWatts, Stacey piloted a Homework Club at a low decile primary school in Cannons Creek, Wellington. Stacey’s idea was to partner workplaces with low decile schools to support students’ learning and open connections. A group of workplace volunteers would spend an hour a week after school connecting with students by helping with their reading and homework or talking about matters that interested them. Since the 2014 pilot, 11 Homework Clubs have operated around New Zealand with most becoming long-term partnerships and more scheduled to commence in 2019. In 2018 alone over 400 children attended a weekly Homework Club and over 160 workplace volunteers participated.

In 2015 Stacey developed Mothers Project and began training volunteer lawyers to visit female prisons every month to help imprisoned mothers understand their responsibilities and rights as to their children. Stacey’s idea was that volunteers could facilitate an information flow that would enable mothers to know their children are ok and for children to know that their mothers wished to provide emotional support even from behind bars. With one objective being to help reduce reoffending and break intergenerational crime, Mothers Project now runs in all female prisons in New Zealand. Stacey has recruited over 120 female lawyers from around 20 different law firms and other organisations as volunteers. Over 500 imprisoned mothers have participated in Mothers Project as at the end of 2018. With an estimated 20,000 children in New Zealand affected by parental imprisonment and reports suggesting that up to 87% of imprisoned women are mothers, Stacey is working to further grow Mothers Project to offer more resources and support to imprisoned mothers, and their families.

In early 2017, through the Charitable Trust, Stacey oversaw the launch of HelpTank, which is New Zealand’s first home-grown digital marketplace that uses technology to connect skilled volunteers with community causes that matter. HelpTank enables projects to be posted seeking help in half or full-day time commitments. Skilled volunteers can search by their skills, interests and location to easily match with projects. Corporate partners can also use HelpTank to connect staff with opportunities to volunteer and keep track of their impact. Since being piloted, over 230 not-for-profits and other community causes around New Zealand have registered on HelpTank. Over 500 skilled volunteers have signed up, and over 185 matches have been made.

A mother of four young children, Stacey also is a frequent speaker and writer on issues concerning gender diversity in the legal profession.

In 2018, Stacey was named as New Zealand’s Disputes Star of the Year at the annual Asia Law Asia-Pacific Dispute Resolution Awards. In 2017, Stacey was a finalist in the community category at the NEXT Woman of the Year Awards. In 2016, Stacey was recognised with a Kiwibank Local Hero Award and also received a Blake Leader Award. In 2015, Stacey won the Community and Not-for-Profit category award at the Women of Influence Awards. That same year, she was also named LawFuel’s New Zealand Lawyer of the Year.

Moira Lawler (Auckland)

Moira Lawler is a passionate advocate for the homeless and has changed the lives of many who have lived on the streets.

Currently she is the Chief Executive of Lifewise, an Auckland-based community social development organisation which develops innovative solutions for challenging social issues.

Through the organisation, Moira and the Lifewise team have implemented and designed the Housing First Auckland City Centre programme, which rehomes and supports Auckland’s homeless. The programme wraps a wealth of support around each person in their new home to address addictions, physical or mental health issues, restore connections to family and whanau, to widen their social connections and engage in meaningful work.

Since its implementation in 2016, more than 62 people, who had on average lived on the streets for fourteen years, have been housed. The programme is set to roll out nationally with $67 million in support from the Government.

Moira is also responsible for overseeing other initiatives at Lifewise including the Merge Café, + Merge Community and the Piki Project, which all work to end homelessness in Auckland.

As an advocate, Moira and the team also work to minimise the impact that coming into state care has on children, with an emphasis on keeping siblings together as much as possible.

At the heart of Moira’s work is the belief that those who have lived experience, who are part of the communities, are vital to making a difference to the way in which we manage social issues.

Sir Peter Gluckman (Auckland)

Appointed in 2009, Sir Peter Gluckman was the first Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand. During his decade as Chief Science Advisor, Peter was responsible for many influential reports including on the topics of climate change, freshwater, youth suicide and asbestos exposure.

Before resigning from the role this year, Peter released a report on methamphetamine testing of residential housing which has helped protect many vulnerable Kiwis in state housing and allayed unwarranted health concerns.

Since the report’s release, changes to legislation about the practices of testing for methamphetamine has occurred as well as Housing New Zealand offering between $2500-$3000 per tenant to 800 Housing New Zealand tenants evicted from their homes under the previous standard.

Having officially left the role of Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister in June 2018, Peter has since been elected to the position of president-elect of the International Science Council at its inaugural meeting in Paris.

Peter’s academic background is in paediatric and developmental biology, evolutionary biology, epigenetics and developmental pathways to disease. He has published over 700 scientific papers and reviews, books for both technical and lay audiences and has received the highest scientific, the Rutherford medal and numerous international scientific awards.

The 10 semi-finalists for 2019 University of Auckland Young New Zealander are:

Kendall Flutey (Christchurch)

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Kendall Flutey is the creator and co-founder of Banqer, an online educational programme that helps young New Zealanders develop valuable financial literacy skills.

Kendall left a secure job in IT to found the Edtech company after participating in a start-up weekend. Inspired by her 12-year-old brother, who kept asking questions about money, she saw the opportunity to use technology for financial education.

Teachers use Banqer to engage and educate their students about how to use money better. Using an online fictitious banking system, each student is given their own bank account, where they can transfer money, set up automatic payments and track their spending.

The programme is designed to help children understand money better, and teaches them concepts around income, interest on savings, tax, property investment and insurance.

Banqer is now used by more than 300 primary and intermediate classrooms nationwide. Teachers report improvement in class engagement and students become more motivated to learn and contribute. Banqer promotes student interaction with new platforms, ideas and concepts to transform learning from a passive event, to a very much involved one.

Kendall acknowledges that being brought up by a single mother and spending plenty of time with her frugal grandparents taught her the value of a dollar, the importance of not spending beyond her means and the power of investment. She is confident the technology she leads can teach a new generation those same important financial lessons.

Kendall was a top-10 nomination in this award in 2016 and a top-three finalist in 2017. This year the Judges have recognised her achievement. In the past year she has continued to grow Banqer’s reach, adding Te Reo Maori to the system to improve its ability to financial literacy for all New Zealand children.

She trained in accountancy and economics at University, and initially began a career in accountancy. She founded Banqer after a shift into the IT industry.

Shay Wright (Auckland)

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Shay Wright is a social entrepreneur and co-founder of Te Whare Hukahuka, which helps create prosperity in New Zealand communities and reduce social inequalities by taking Maori business to the world and growing new social entrepreneurial leaders.

Shay, a former Head Boy of Kaitaia College, studied commerce at the University of Auckland and received a Chancellors’ Award as top Māori and Pacific scholar. He noticed that by helping community organisations and enterprises become self-sustaining, they could then create significantly more social impact in their communities and directly tackle social challenges. Shay set up the Maori unit for The Icehouse business growth hub before co-founding the social enterprise, Te Whare Hukahuka.

Te Whare Hukahuka has worked with more than 800 leaders of community organisations that collectively serve more than 250,000 Maori people. They have won multiple awards for their work mobilising Maori leadership and equipping leaders with the skills to lead positive changes in their community and grow world-class Maori businesses.

In 2016, Shay was named in the Forbes Asia ‘30 Under 30’ social entrepreneurs list of Asia’s top promising young leaders, entrepreneurs and game changers. He has also led the establishment of their Maori youth governance programme, Ka Eke Poutama, which was recently awarded ‘Community based programme of the year’. Every year the organisation launches another arm to their work, including training whanau to set up their own enterprises, mobilising more than 120 young Maori leaders to give back through community initiatives and governance roles, advising Government policy, and taking Maori businesses to the world by opening up online sales channels.

Shay holds a Ministerial appointment to the Government’s Maori Economic Development Advisory Board, sits on several advisory boards, and was a founding trustee of TeachFirstNZ, as part of his mission to create better educational opportunities in rural communities. He is sought after as a speaker and assists a number of organisations with their strategies. Shay has been a finalist for the 2016 and 2017 Young Enterprise Alumni Award, the 2017 Young NZ Innovator Award and the 2017 and 2018 Matariki Young Achiever Award.

Samantha Jones (Canterbury)

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Samantha Jones is a writer, business owner and activist in the ethical fashion sector. She is the founder of Little Yellow Bird, one of New Zealand's leading suppliers of ethical apparel.

Samantha’s father worked as a diplomat for the government, meaning she had the chance to see the world from an early age. This included four years in Russia and finishing high school in Indonesia – experiences that opened her eyes to the real world and deeply influenced the start of her business journey some years later.

She spent six years as a logistics officer in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, before leaving to work in a corporate role.

The idea for Little Yellow Bird was sparked when she struggled to purchase corporate wear that was sustainable and ethically made. She also remembered seeing textile factories discharging waste into the river that flowed past her school in Jakarta – the same river people used for drinking water.

Little Yellow Bird now supplies more than 200 organisations in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. It works closely with farmers, manufacturers, designers and artists to create business apparel in a way that won’t compromise workers or the environment. It provides customers with complete transparency over its supply chain, and their workers with safe jobs and fair pay.

Last year the company conserved more than 12 million litres of water and 12,000 kg of pesticides by choosing to source organic rain-fed cotton, and reduced plastic packaging by 90 percent on 2017.

The company provides ethical employment opportunities, education, training and reinvests profits into community development projects. It’s suppliers also employ a number of zero waste initiatives and the company ensures none of the uniforms end up in the landfill by working with repurposing partners.

Samantha has been the finalist for a number of awards, including the Sustainable Business Network Awards, Wellingtonian of the Year and New Zealand Women of Influence. As well as growing her own company, Samantha regularly supports other start-up founders, including assisting Start-up Weekend and Venture Up.

Samantha was selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of the Edmund Hillary Fellowship, has a master’s in international security and was recognised as New Zealand’s Young Innovator of the Year in 2017.

Jason Boberg (Auckland)

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Jason Boberg is the creative director of Activate, a film agency dedicated to producing content for impact.

He is passionate about changing perceptions and providing a positive lens on social and environmental issues. Having lived experience of disability, he is an advocate for disability rights, and works to change the way society views and understands disability.

An experienced creative director, Jason saw the opportunity to blend his passions for social justice and environmental causes, with his professional expertise in film production and direction by establishing Activate.

Activate enables organisations, businesses, and campaigners to maximise their impact through storytelling, rapid prototyping and co-design.

Jason graduated with a film degree from Victoria University after studying psychology and architecture. He has worked in film in New Zealand and Los Angeles. His films have been recognised at the Moa Awards and produced through the prestigious American Film Institute.

Jason is interested in the interaction between human rights and environmental rights. He has worked at a strategic level on various advocacy campaigns, and also facilitated discussion and education around disability and climate change at international and national conferences. This includes the COP23 United Nations Climate Conference in Germany, where he was a New Zealand Youth Delegate.

Jason is also a trustee of the Awesome Foundation Disability Chapter, which award monthly micro-grants to people and projects around the world that are working hard to make a positive difference in the disability community.

Alexia Hilbertidou (Auckland)

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Alexia Hilbertidou is a New Zealand social entrepreneur and the founder of GirlBoss New Zealand, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to empower women in leadership, entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Her mission is to get young women to the boardroom table and, from experience, she believes the decisions made while young are crucial in paving the way.

Attending a tech event when she was 14 inspired her to study technology and advanced physics at school. Her passion for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) led her to create GirlBoss just two years later when she was 16.

Now GirlBoss has become an 8000 strong network for ambitious, young New Zealand women. It holds events to inspire young women to consider working in technology and aiming to be business CEOs, and workshops with school kids to help break down barriers to studying science and maths and connects young women with female role models and CEOs.

GirlBoss is free to join and has an Australian offshoot called ChangemakeHer.

Alexia’s achievements to date include the Westpac Women of Influence Award; Queen's Young Leader Award; US embassy scholarships to attend global conferences and a Nasa flight to study southern skies and being a Ministry of Youth Development Top 5 Young Leader.

Alexia believes women are over-represented in the jobs that automation will render obsolete, such as retail, and under-represented in the STEAM jobs the tech revolution will create. She regularly speaks to corporate audiences to spread her message.

Alliv Samson (Auckland)

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Alliv Samson was 10 years old when she attended a summer class in MS-DOS. By 15 she was learning how to program, build websites and was fully engaged in software development. She went on to study computer science at university in the Philippines.

When her family immigrated to New Zealand, Alliv completed a Bachelor of Arts in Political Studies and Media Studies at the University of Auckland. There she met her company’s co-founders, Henjie Wang and Jordan Thomas.

The three shared a goal of starting a tech company. Thanks to the University of Auckland’s Velocity Entrepreneurship Programme, they were able to do that, jumpstarting their first offering, Notable.

Notable meets a need for a better notetaking experience in lectures, allowing real-time collaboration. After a year, the team refocused the product on the North American education sector and changed the name to Kami, meaning “paper” in Japanese. Kami now has more than a million users and gains 5000 new users every few hours.

Kami helps classrooms, teachers and students transition to paperless work. The app, a PDF and document annotation tool for schools helps to improve classroom interaction and engagement.

New Zealand has been a great place for Alliv to discover what she can do, although Alliv claims being a female entrepreneur brought challenges. She found she needed to prove herself regularly and initially changed how she communicated.

Now that she has now found the courage to be herself, she is taking her opportunity to change the status quo and bring diversity to the industry. Alliv wants to encourage other young immigrants and young women to do great things in this country, and to know they can achieve their goals and be as successful as they want to be.

Alliv won the 2015 New Zealand Innovators Award and the 2017 American Chamber of Commerce NZ Exporter of the Year and was a finalist in the Women of Influence awards in recognition of her efforts to support young women eager to enter the industry.

Alliv currently splits her time between Auckland and San Francisco.

Jazz Thornton (Auckland)

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Jazz Thornton is a TV and documentary director. In 2017 she created the mental health charity Voices of Hope, along with her friend Genevieve Mora. The charity highlights the issues surrounding suicide and aims to help break the stigma around mental health.

She founded the Voices for Hope to support those struggling with mental health issues by promoting well-being, empowerment and recovery.

Jazz has drawn on her own experiences of childhood abuse and multiple suicide attempts, sharing her story to normalise open dialogue about suicide.

She eventually turned her life around after she was able to fight against her battle with the love and support from family and friends. She utilises her skills to tell the stories of young people who, like her, have suffered from depression and been suicidal.

In 2016 she enrolled in South Seas Film and Television School to learn how to tell the stories of young people like her who have suffered from depression and been suicidal. She had been there only a few months when she created a short film called Dear Suicidal Me.

It features accounts from people, including Jazz, who have tried to end their life, some multiple times. They were filmed reading their real suicide notes and then the reasons they felt lucky to be still alive. The film made international headlines and has been viewed online more than 80 million times.

Her message of “Stop Surviving, Start Fighting” has had a global reach and is all about not just talking about the problem, but finding solutions.

Keneti James Fitzgerald Apa (KJ Apa) (Auckland)

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KJ Apa is a New Zealand-born actor of Samoan descent who has gained international fame starring as Archie Andrews in the CW drama series Riverdale.

Born in Auckland, Apa is the son of Keneti and Tessa Apa. His father is a Matai in his village in Samoa. KJ went to school at King's College before embarking on his acting career.

Before Riverdale he starred as Kane Jenkins in Shortland Street, as teenage Ethan Montgomery in the comedy-drama film A Dog's Purpose and as Chris in the recently released crime drama movie The Hate You Give. KJ’s next movie, The Last Summer, is currently in post-production.

He has a significant internet presence, with more than 12.3 million Instagram followers.

Nicole Hone (Wellington)

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Nicole Horne is an industrial designer based in Wellington. Originally from New Plymouth, Nicole is inspired by nature and has an artistic background in painting – both of which influence her design style.

Nicole has developed a new approach to 3D printing, creating “4D” objects that interact with their surroundings – including touch. She hopes that her innovative objects and experiences intrigue, inspire and entertain people.

Examples of her work include a pulse light that bounces and changes intensity depending on how strongly people tap the light. Another design, Nalo, is a 3D-printed wireless speaker that is planted in the ground and encourages people to reconnect with their physical environment.

Her latest objects, Hydrophytes, have a lifelike quality that transport the viewer to an undersea world. Suitable for the film industry or museums, they provide a tangible immersive encounter. Hydrophytes are as full of character as the natural organisms they mimic.

Nicole has just completed a Master of Design Innovation at Victoria University of Wellington.

Sophie Pascoe (Christchurch)

Sophie Pascoe.jpg

The standard-bearer for Para sport in New Zealand, Sophie Pascoe is a national treasure, having already made an unequivocal contribution to New Zealand.

Sophie made her international debut aged just 13 at the IPC Swimming World Championships in South Africa, bagging a bronze medal. Two years later, in 2008, she surprised many to stand on the podium in Beijing with her first Paralympic gold medal, hugely proud to be a world champion. She then went on to secure three gold and one silver medal in total at those games.

Four years later she increased her haul, winning three golds and three silvers at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. And the next year achieving her career highlight, with five gold medals at the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal.

Most recently Sophie had the honour of being selected as the flagbearer for the New Zealand Commonwealth Games Team on the Gold Coast. She then went on to win two gold medals in the pool.

She is now the most decorated New Zealand Paralympian. Her international swimming career has been more than a decade in the making and Sophie is now aiming to compete at her fourth Paralympic Games, in Tokyo in 2020.

Following a lawnmower accident when Sophie was two, one leg was amputated below the knee. She has overcome her own challenges by following the mantra: “It’s about what you can do, not what you cannot do”.

A 2018 finalist in the Women of Influence awards, she is indeed an influential Kiwi. She is a role model for the 1.1 million Kiwis living with a form of physical impairment, showing people that how you live life is a choice.

Sophie is now looking forward to the 2018 Pan Pacific Para Para Swimming Championships in August and what she hopes will be her fourth Paralympic Games in 2020.

The 10 semi-finalist for 2019 Metlifecare Senior New Zealander of the Year are:

Dame Kate Harcourt (Wellington)

Dame Kate Harcourt

Kate Harcourt is an actor with a long career in New Zealand screen and theatre, described as “acting royalty”.

At 91, she is still involved in many arts and community projects – appearing in the cast of the 2017 WOW show, in the stage play at circa Destination Beehive: 2017 and helping the Governor General celebrate Suffrage Day 2018.

Kate, 91, trained as a kindergarten teacher in the 1940s, taught singing and speech training at Woodford House, then graduated from Melbourne University Conservatorium of Music in 1951 with a diploma in singing, with further training at the Joan Cross Opera School in London.

Her professional career began in the 1960s with preschool radio programme Listen with Mother and Junior Magazine at WNTV1, a weekly children’s programme.

She was fashion coordinator for Kirkcaldie and Stains and a publicist for Downstage Theatre, while also appearing in film, radio and TV.

An international tour of Hedda Gabler in 1990-91 lead on to the Adelaide Festival, followed by lead roles in Map Film Productions and Radio.

Kate appeared with her daughter, Miranda, at the International Festival of the Arts with Flowers From My Mother’s Garden, which subsequently toured New Zealand.

She was awarded best Female Actress for the film Pacific Dream in 2011 at the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

In 2014 she lent her name to the “Stand up for Falls” campaign, producing materials for falls prevention programmes. Dame Kate had a fall in late 2013 and her story in the campaign tells about her injuries and the impacts on her life while recovering.

Kate was honoured with a DNZM in 1996 for her commitment and service to theatre and was awarded an Equity lifetime award of contribution to theatre in 2014.

Dr Bill (William) Glass (Wellington)

Dr Bill Glass

Bill Glass’ work over 60 years has drawn attention to unseen fatal effects of exposure to substances in the workplace.

Bill’s efforts have resulted in better health for countless workers by not only proving the danger posed by substances such as asbestos, lead and silica, but also by organising methods to reduce exposure.

Bill started out almost alone in his efforts on occupational safety, but he is now considered the godfather of occupational health in New Zealand. During his career he has been a passionate practitioner, educator, researcher, advocate, influencer and provocateur. He has mentored, trained and inspired many New Zealanders working in the field of occupational medicine.

A major success of his work was the creation of the Asbestos Exposure Register. His battle to gain recognition of the seriousness and extent of the asbestos problem culminated in a 2016 Prohibition Order banning asbestos containing products from New Zealand.

Bill qualified as a doctor in 1956 and worked briefly at Wellington Hospital. He then went to London, where he was encouraged into occupational medicine. Following a course in industrial health he became Auckland’s Deputy Medical Officer of Health in 1959 and took on the same role in Timaru the following year.

From 1961-67 he was an advisor in Occupational Health with the Department of Health, and later the Industrial Health Clinics.

He worked with the Auckland and Otago medical schools until the early 1990s and assisted the work of health and safety regulators. Along the way he has been a passionate supporter of people making work-related health claims with ACC.

Now in his late-80s, Bill is working with Massey University’s Centre of Public Health Research, researching and producing papers on the dangers of chronic solvent neurotoxicity among car spray painters and the efficacy of protective equipment. He also acts as an adviser to Headsafe, a health and safety consultancy.

Bill is driven by benefits to those who work in dangerous environments: “I’ve never been popular with some people, because I do what is best for the worker.”

Bill is a member of the Royal Australian College of Physicians. In 2002 he was awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit.

Ian Templeton (Wellington)

Ian Templeton

Ian Templeton retired last year after a remarkable 60-year career in parliament’s press gallery.

He had become an institution due to his reputation for fair and balanced journalism, his record on political people and policy in the Trans-Tasman newsletter, and his founding work on organising the journalism profession in New Zealand. Now 89, he still writes about Parliament in the blog Point of Order.

Ian started as a copyboy at the Otago Daily Times in Dunedin in 1946. He took to journalism quickly. After completing an arts degree at Otago University, he returned to the ODT as a sports and general reporter before moving to work in Glasgow in 1953. He was appointed to the New Zealand press gallery in 1957.

Ian was a founding member of the Press Club and the Press Council, becoming a role model and mentor for journalists.

He became the New Zealand correspondent for the Guardian and The Economist, The South China Morning Post, and wrote for the Australian Financial Review and Sunday Star-Times. He toured internationally with prime ministers and turned his strong policy interest in the links between Australia and New Zealand into the Trans-Tasman newsletter.

He has co-authored three books; Election '69: An Independent Survey of the New Zealand Political Scene, In the Balance: Election '72 and Speeches That Shaped New Zealand: 1814-1956.

The Ian Templeton Journalism Scholarship was created to encourage political journalists.

Ian was awarded an OBE in 1994 and a CNZM in 2010 and in 2011 an honorary doctorate from Massey University.

Lexie Matheson (Auckland)

Lexie Matheson

Lexie Matheson has many dimensions to her current and past life; an academic, parent, spouse, mother, writer, national karate representative, actor and theatre critic and tireless advocate for the queer community and social justice causes.

She was born as Lex in 1945, joined the army then took up teaching, then turned to acting and theatre. In 1998, aged 53, Lex underwent gender reassignment.

Performing arts have been a significant part of her professional and personal life. She has directed, written, acted and taught in live theatre, dance, film, television and radio for three decades. She has been an active theatre critic, penning more than 200 reviews from 1980-16. She was a member of the all-women performance of Henry V at the Pop-Up Globe Theatre. She is a life member of Company of Angels Theatre Company, The Actors Company of Aotearoa New Zealand and the Christchurch Shakespeare Theatre Festival Trust.

Lexie is currently a senior lecturer in event management at Auckland University of Technology. She has received numerous awards for teaching excellence.

The constant thread in her life has been working for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) rights. She was on the board of the Auckland Pride Parade until 2015, and is a panel member of Auckland City Rainbow Communities.

She was selected as one of 50 Women to feature in a book celebrating 125 years of Women’s Suffrage.

Lexie’s work in arts, education and LGBTIQ rights was acknowledged with an ONZM in 2016.

Margaret Pittaway (Lowburn)

Margaret Pittaway

Margaret Pittaway has been with the Rural Women New Zealand organisation for 22 years, joining in 1996.

Her work, operating from the South Island, concentrates on health and social development matters for women living in rural New Zealand.

This year she led a prominent campaign advocating for the interests of rural women over their limited access to health services, particularly maternity care.

Margaret was elected to Rural Women New Zealand’s National Council in 2011.

She was the founding member of the Central Otago Women in Agribusiness Group, past president of the Cromwell Branch and Central Otago Provincial.

Margaret had a long career as a New Zealand registered nurse in intensive care and a practice nurse with the Blood Transfusion Service.

She completed her nursing training at Balclutha Hospital and then gained a Diploma in Intensive Care Nursing at Wellington Hospital. A three-year stint overseas involved her in ICU work in Edinburgh in a renal transplant unit, and then after extensive travel she worked as an agency nurse in London and Essex. On her return to New Zealand she continued ICU work before moving to the Blood Transfusion Service and then as a practice nurse in Dunedin and Cromwell.

In 2012 Margaret took up a new role as a councillor for Rural Women New Zealand in Otago/Southland, a role that involved both governance and working with the membership, as well as covering the health portfolio.

She now uses her vast knowledge of medical practice and the health system to improve rural health outcomes and advocate for the role of rural midwives.

Margaret founded the Rural Women New Zealand Committee for National Adverse Events, where aid to rural families suffering financial hardship following events such as earthquakes, floods or drought and encouraged various farming-related women’s groups to increase capacity for effective support.

Michael Corballis (Auckland)

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.

At 82, Corballis, emeritus professor at the University of Auckland’s Department of Psychology, is still advancing and stimulating theories about the human brain – including mounting challenges to the language theories of celebrated thinker Noam Chomsky.

His latest book is The Truth about Language, published in 2017, explores the origin of 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.

Paul Geertson (Hastings)

Paul Geertson

Paul Geertson is a medical imaging specialist based in Hastings who has become an institution in the Hawke’s Bay for his roles training staff and expanding the capability and capacity of angiography and ultrasound services in New Zealand.

Paul developed the prototype pad for paediatric X-ray positioning, a method which allows better diagnosis for chest X-rays of infants. He was responsible for developing standardised travel policies for inpatient and outpatients’ families between regional hospitals and major centres to make it cost-effective for them to attend specialist appointments.

In 2003 he played a key role setting up radiology equipment in the Chatham Islands, training staff and helping set up the systems and protocols.

His interest in radiography started when he was young, with regular visits to Blenheim Hospital, where his father worked as an engineer. Fascinated by the X-ray department and with a passion for photography, when an opportunity to train as a radiographer in Blenheim came up, Paul took it.

Paul has been visually impaired most of his life. He was born with congenital glaucoma, leaving him blind in his left eye. In 1983 Paul's career was put on hold after he ran into a branch while out on a morning jog, scratching his right eye, leaving him with low vision in that eye as well.

He continued to work at the hospital in other roles, including social worker, clerical assistant and patient travel officer. In 2000, he underwent surgery and retained his pre-accident sight, meaning he could start practising radiography again. Paul started specialising in paediatrics and developed new techniques suitable for kids, which he presented in a paper.

In 2016, Paul suffered another injury to his right eye and had to give up practicing radiography once again.

That same year he was made an honorary member of the New Zealand Institute of Medical Radiation Technologists for demonstrating a high standard of competence and personal commitment to the Institute and his profession. He was only the sixth person to receive the honorary membership.

Paul continues to share his knowledge and expertise with up and coming radiographers. In 2017 he tutored students and gave guest lectures at the Universal College of Learning in Palmerston North.

Paul is studying a four-year degree through Bible College, working towards a master’s degree in music. When he's not studying or finishing assignments, he loves to play one of his 40 wind instruments, the flute and soprano saxophone among his favourites.

Describing himself as a “tech geek”, Paul uses a range of tools to help with his studies and day-to-day life, including zoom-text, CCTV, a handheld digital magnifier and a personal GPS system.

Dr Rosamund Vallings (Auckland)

Dr Rosamund Vallings

Dr Rosamund Vallings is New Zealand’s leading authority, and a highly regarded global expert, on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).

The illness, thought to affect over 20,000 New Zealanders, is difficult to diagnose and treat, and leaves sufferers in pain, exhausted unable to work fulltime. Some suffers are even bedridden.

She recently produced her third book on the illness, The Pocket Guide to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME, and has completed contributions to international guidelines for diagnosis and management.

Rosamund has run a medical practice in Auckland since 1966, which evolved to specialise in chronic Fatigue Syndrome and related conditions.

She has built a knowledge-base to help patients manage their illness. She runs seminars for patients and has produced an education booklet and information sheets. She has written a book on the diagnosis and management of CFS/ME, and a guide for young people affected with the illness.

She acts as a reviewer of international guidelines for diagnosis and management of CFS/ME, and for the NZ Guidelines Group. She co-authored the IACFS/ME physicians’ primer, and participated in the international group producing the Canadian and International consensus definitions for CFS/ME. She has also been part of the international group, writing a paediatric primer for physicians.

Rosamund is a medical adviser to the ANZMES – the national organisation supporting those with CFS/ME. She has provided training for GPs and students at the University of Auckland and speaks to medical groups around NZ.

She is a member of the International Association for CFS/ME.

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

Sir Mason Durie (Palmerston North)

Sir Mason Durie

Sir Mason Durie is a familiar name to many New Zealanders for his lifelong commitment to the improvement of Maori health, education and well-being.

He was instrumental in the building of community-based health delivery for Maori, in the forerunners of the modern wananga, and in the Royal Commission on Social Policy. He has served in numerous administrative roles and boards responsible for services to Maori.

He believes leadership is a shared enterprise rather than dependence on one person alone, working together to enable communities to develop their own solutions.

Sir Mason grew up in Feilding and went to Te Aute College in Hawke’s Bay. He graduated in medicine from Otago University. He later graduated with distinction from the four-year post-graduate programme in psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He then returned to Palmerston North Hospital to practice at the newly opened psychiatric unit, Manawaroa, at which he became Director of Psychiatry.

Central to his practice has been promotion of the importance of cultural and environmental dimensions for Māori health and well-being.

In 1988 he was appointed to the Royal Commission on Social Policy as a full-time commissioner, after which his career on the national stage began.

Sir Mason has served on the boards of Te Papa, the Foundation for Research Science and Technology, chaired the Guardians Group for the Secondary Futures project, and been a Commissioner for the New Zealand Families Commission.

He chaired the Ministerial Task-force on Whānau Ora and was also Chair of Te Kāhui Amokura, a Standing Committee of the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee.

In the 2001 New Year Honours Durie was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori. In the 2010 New Year Honours, he was promoted to Knight Companion of the same order, for services to Māori health, in particular public health services.

His lifetime efforts have been recognised by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, the Public Health Association of New Zealand, the Māori Medical Practitioners Association, the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, and the Polynesian Society.

Recent roles have included Deputy Chair of Te Wānanga o Raukawa, Professor of Māori Research and Development, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Massey University, and a Trustee of his Aorangi Marae.

Sue Kedgley (Wellington)

Sue Kedgley

Sue Kedgley has been a catalyst for change since 1971, in roles as diverse as a freelance writer, columnist, media consultant, media trainer and consumer advocate. Her major influence has been the fields of feminism, food safety, food health and animal welfare.

She has been a member of the board of Consumer New Zealand and the Government Technical Advisory Committee on Natural Health Products, and a founder of the National Organisation of Women.

During eight years at the United Nations Secretariat, Sue worked to raise the status of women internationally and in New Zealand. She was president of the National Committee of United Nations’ Women of New Zealand and the Women’s’ Empowerment Principles.

She was a member of the United Nations’ Women Asia Pacific Regional Civil Society Advisory Group and on the steering committee for Women’s’ Rights and Advocacy in the Pacific.

She was Green Party list Member of Parliament (1999-2011). She was instrumental in campaigns that led to the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification and changes to animal welfare codes. She secured funding for a nutritional Fund for schools, a National Antibiotic Resistance Surveillance System and an integrated health unit in the Ministry of Health.

Other issues central to her career are public transport, public service broadcasting, aged care, ambulance services, obesity and type 2 diabetes, the regulation of natural food products and the creation of a national food safety network.

Sue was a Wellington City Councillor for seven years. And is currently a Councillor on the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

She has authored numerous books, including Eating Safely in a Toxic World, Mum's The Word; The Untold Story of Motherhood in New Zealand and Sexist Society.

The 10 semi-finalists for 2019 Sanitarium New Zealand Innovator of the Year are:

Soul Machines – Mark Sagar (Auckland)

Dr Mark Sager

Soul Machines is a revolutionary technology company of artificial researchers, neuroscientists, psychologists and artists who work to redefine machines’ interaction with humans.

Soul Machines creates incredibly life-like, emotionally responsive digital avatars, each with their own personality and ability to talk to humans face-to-face through a screen. Their vision is to humanise artificial intelligence and make human interaction with machines and AI personalised with life-like artificial humans.

To achieve this, they use neural networks that combine biologically inspired models of the human brain and key sensory networks to create a virtual central nervous system that they call our Human Computing Engine.

Soul Machines was founded in 2016 and has grown its staff from 12 to 80.

Their digital avatars are now used by some of the biggest corporate brands in the world in banking and finance, software and technology, automotive, healthcare, energy and education.

In New Zealand, ANZ Bank is currently deploying Soul Machines' digital avatar “Jamie” to answer customers’ basic queries. In her first 100 days, Jamie had more than 12,000 conversations with existing and potential customers. ANZ has since extended the pilot so that Jamie can add Te Reo Maori words to her vocabulary.

Other backers and clients include Hong Kong-based global investor Horizons Ventures, IBM and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Soul Machines’ co-founder Dr Mark Sagar is director of the Laboratory for Animate Technology at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute and a two-time Academy Award winner for his pioneering work in computer facial animation in the entertainment industry.

Ian Taylor – Animation Research Ltd (Dunedin)

Ian Taylor

Ian Taylor is the founder of Animation Research Limited (ARL), a computer graphics production facility, and multimedia production company Taylormade Productions.

Based in Dunedin, the companies’ work has included the production of animated television commercials, title sequences, 3D animated graphics for sports coverage such as the America’s Cup, children’s television shows including Squirt, apps and more.

ARL continues to service the F1 racing simulator it built for one of the world’s leading F1 race teams and has produced graphics and simulators for a range of sports including aerobatics, hot air ballooning, para gliding, extreme sports, cricket, sailing and more.

It has also built an online risk assessment platform for one of the world’s largest mining companies. For IBM, ARL built an online application to demonstrate the company’s cloud-based analytics engine to a conference of 22,000 delegates.

Taylormade Productions produced New Zealand’s first motion-captured co-host, Spike the penguin, on the children’s television show Squirt, which ran for 10 years, and the popular children’s TV show Studio 2, which also ran for 10 years.

Ian's team at ARL and Taylormade Productions has continued to push the boundaries of technology; one week in the Canary Islands covering a yacht race, the next, a team in India providing graphics for cricket, another in Dubai tracking offshore power boats. ARL has won several national and international awards for its 1995 Bluebird commercial, a 1995 Air NZ commercial, a 1999 Ribena commercial, 2010 sports graphics and the 2014 America’s Cup app.

Most recently, Ian has been involved with Dunedin’s Steamer Basin Project, advocating for funding from the Provincial Growth fund to help with its developments.

Ian was inducted into the New Zealand Hi-Tech Hall of Fame in 2009 and in 2010 he was named North & South magazine’s New Zealander of the Year.

In the same year, he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the New Zealand Computer Society. He was named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2012 New Year Honours, for services to television and business, and won the Creative sector of the World Class New Zealander Awards.

In 2013, he was named Outstanding Maori Business Leader of the Year.

Sunfed Foods Ltd (Auckland)

Shama Lee

Sunfed Foods is an innovative and fast-growing food tech start-up, specialising in making high-quality “meatless meats” from premium yellow pea protein. The result is a meaty fibrous product that feels and cooks like animal meat.

Sunfed products are high in protein, iron, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Its meat has 62% more protein than fresh lean skinless chicken breast, are low in carbohydrates and are a source of fibre, magnesium and B vitamins.

Currently, Sunfed products include its popular “chicken-free chicken”, which is in supermarkets nationwide and is also used in vegan satay pies. The product has consistently sold out in stores and is now established in international markets such the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

The company recently closed a $9.4 million Series A investment round that included funding from the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund and Australia’s Blackbird Ventures.

It is now working on new products, including meat-free bacon, beef chunks and burger patties, and starting the process of expanding its availability overseas.

Sunfed was founded in 2015 by Shama Lee, a former software engineer, and is based in Auckland.

Sam Stubbs – Simplicity KiwiSaver (Auckland)

Sam Stubbs

Sam Stubbs is managing director of not-for-profit KiwiSaver provider Simplicity.

Sam launched Simplicity in 2016 with $1 million of his own money. Taking no salary, Sam’s goal was to disrupt high-fee KiwiSaver providers.

Today, Simplicity is New Zealand’s lowest-priced KiwiSaver fund, with management fees capped at 0.31%. This is a significant difference to the industry norm of 1-2%.

The scheme has a commitment to return all profits to investors and does not invest in tobacco and controversial weapons. Simplicity also donates 15% of its management fees to charity.

Simplicity offers six different funds, each comprised of more than 3000 different investments in 23 countries.

Since launching in 2016 with a little over 200 members, Simplicity now has $400 million in funds under management on behalf of 14,000 KiwiSaver members.

Sam has worked in the financial services sector for most of his professional life and was previously chief executive of Tower Investments.

Hivemind (Christchurch)


Hivemind builds devices that monitor beehives and track the health and weight of bee colonies.

It sells a software and hardware package that collates the changing weights of the hives, communicating the data by satellite to beekeepers.

Hivemind also developed and sell hive-strength monitors, which report the in-hive humidity, temperature and the number of bees entering or leaving the hive over an adjustable period, as well as rain gauges and theft trackers.

Honey is a rapidly growing, high-value export industry for New Zealand. Bees and the husbandry of their hives is also critical to a farming/horticulture-based economy such as ours in New Zealand.

Hivemind’s innovation and success has had an incredible impact on the modern practice of beekeeping in New Zealand and overseas, making monitoring more accurate and available from anywhere in the world.

The use of its software benefits beekeepers in many ways, including greater honey yields through better timing of hive visits, fewer costly road trips to visit hives, less disturbances of bees and quicker identification and mitigation of significant events that can destroy hives, such as colony-collapse disorder – a troubling global phenomenon.

Last year, New Zealand-based manuka honey company The True Honey Co used Hivemind’s weight scales on 20 sites for visibility. As a result, yields were significantly increased, resulting in thousands of dollars of additional profit for every site they monitored.

Hivemind products are also being used by beekeeping companies in Australia and the United States.

Dr Alistair Scarfe & Steven Saunders – Robotics Plus (Whakamarama)

Scarfe and Saunders

Founded by Dr Alister Scarfe and Steven Saunders, Robotics Plus is an agricultural robotics and automation company helping the horticultural sector better plan and respond to major challenges impacting the industry.

These include developing sustainable practices, reducing the impact of seasonal labour shortages and pollination gaps, and enhancing yield security.

It has focused on developing intellectual property and through mechanisation, automation, robotic and sensor technologies, creating robotic apple pickers and sorters for the international horticultural fresh fruit market.

Making the robotic pickers available through low-cost lease options has helped fruit growers trial the technology and, in 2015 alone, the robotic apple pickers processed 3.5 million apples.

The key benefits of the robotic apple picker include ensuring crops are not at risk from seasonal labour shortages and by accelerating the speed at which picking, sorting and packing can be achieved. The robot picker can handle 120 fruit per minute and is being used in pack-houses in New Zealand and the United States.

In March 2018, Robotics Plus secured international investment from Yamaha Motor Co Ltd, with Yamaha investing a further NZ$11.7 million in a second round of capital raising.

This will enable Robotics Plus to develop new technologies such as autonomous agricultural vehicles, robotic kiwifruit harvesters, robotic pollinators and crop estimators.

Spring Sheep Milk Co (Auckland)


Spring Sheep Milk is creating an end-to-end value chain for sheep milk from farm to marketplace in order to expand into the primary industry of alternative dairy supplies.

The global sheep milk industry is estimated to be worth $6.5 billion and is a growing premium, value-add sector.

Sheep milk appeals to consumers due to its digestibility, taste and nutrition. It has twice as much protein and calcium as cow’s milk and is a more sustainable and environmentally friendly means of milk production.

Spring Sheep Milk’s products include vanilla probiotic sheep milk powder and sheep milk calcium tablets. It is consumed widely overseas, particularly in Asian markets.

Spring Sheep Milk sells its products in Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Korea, with its international revenue growing by 88% over the past three years. The company has also expanded into China and is now producing gelato, butter, fresh milk and nutritional supplements in local and export markets.

The company has 15 staff based in New Zealand. It has worked with more than 50 local New Zealand suppliers, including farmers, advisors, researchers, scientists, manufacturers, designers and agencies, across all areas of its business.

In August this year, Korean food company Lotte Foods partnered with Spring Sheep Milk to introduce a new sheep-milk product line for Korean children which will launch in 2019.

It was also a finalist at the 2018 Air New Zealand Cargo ExportNZ Awards in the Best Emerging Business for Goods and Excellence in Innovation categories.

Spring Sheep Milk is jointly owned by Landcorp Farming Limited and SLC Group.

Fibre-gen – Hitman (Christchurch)

Fibre Gen

Fibre-gen is a Christchurch-based company using advanced sonic technology applications in the forest harvesting and wood product industries.

Its award-winning product, the Hitman PH330, is an acoustic tool that sonically tests the tensile strength of a tree before harvest. This allows trees to be sorted as assessed for the most appropriate use prior to harvesting.

This helps prevent destruction of value at the point of log-making, when decisions are made about the grade of the wood without measuring wood quality.

Fibre-gen’s Hitman PH330 allows forest companies to find high-value logs automatically, adding significant value to forests and reducing the waste of unusable wood.

Hitman PH330 is included in Fibre-gen’s range of acoustic tools, which can be applied from tree breeding through forest management to harvesting, log-making and wood processing. These tools have become a recognised global benchmark in greenwood grading.

Fibre-gen was a finalist at the 2015 NZ Hi-Tech Awards and the 2013 CDC Innovation Champion Canterbury Business Awards. It was a winner at the 2015 NZ Innovators Awards and winner of the Green Good Design Award for technology research.

Chris Heaslip – Pushpay (Auckland)

Chris Heaslip

Chris Heaslip is chief executive and co-founder of Pushpay – a digital church collection operator.

After noticing the shift into a digital world, Chris recognised that churches needed to integrate digital platforms and apps into their giving solutions to maintain trust and profile within their communities.

Pushpay provides a donor management system, including donor tools, finance tools and a custom community app, to the faith sector in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

It allows donors to digitally donate to their church through an app and mobile site anytime and anywhere they like.

The company was listed on the NZX in 2014 and is now based in the United States. It is used by 55 of America’s largest 100 churches, including one boasting 51,900 weekly church attendees. It is currently used by more than 7300 churches worldwide.

Originally from Auckland, Chris' vision is to lead churches into the digital age through Pushpay and to simplify consumer engagement, payments and administration.

Auror (Auckland)


Auror founders Phil Thomson, Tom Batterbury and James Corbett were inspired to create their software to help retailers and police efficiently and effectively stop crime.

Auror is a simple, effective means of combating retail crime through novel, systemised software allowing reporting, management and prevention.

Previous methods of reporting crime have been paper-based, with incidents reported months after the event, making the process for both retailer and police tiresome and inefficient.

Auror solves the issue by allowing retailers to report an incident in 10 minutes, providing police with a larger web of detailed information about alleged offenders and locations.

Auror has since expanded and is used by companies in New Zealand and Australia, including Briscoes, Farmers and Z Petrol Stations.

Since implementation at Briscoes, unknown losses have been reduced by 18%. At Z service stations, fuel thefts have been reduced by 70%.

One of Auror’s largest clients, a major Australian retailer, used Auror to link a prolific offender to a fencing operation and worked with the police in an operation that saw 6sixproperties searched, $500,000 of cash seized, $300,000 of stolen goods returned, illegal drugs seized, and seven arrests made.

The 10 semi-finalists for 2019 Mitre 10 New Zealand Community of the Year are:

Pillars (national)


Pillars is a charity dedicated to supporting children of prisoners that provides support, resources, education and opportunities to ensure these children do not become future prison inmates.

Through programmes of empowerment to support actions that make transformational change, Pillars seeks to break the cycle for these vulnerable children and their families/whanau, helping build a stronger community that benefits all New Zealanders.

The charity’s purpose is to break the cycle of intergenerational offending in New Zealand by giving children of prisoner’s access to support they need to live positive lives, at a time when they need it most.

Pillars was founded by Verna McFelin and celebrated 25 years’ service to the community in 2013.

Verna drew on her own life experience of seeing the impact on her four children when their father went to prison. They became the invisible victims of a crime they did not commit.

Pillars’ vision is that every one of the more than 20,000 children of prisoners in New Zealand will not be judged, but instead get access to support they need to be the people they were destined to be.

Each day, Pillars works with families and caregivers who have children in their care who have been impacted by their dad or mum going to prison. These families want a positive future for their children that is free from crime.

Pillars’ key point of difference is that its programme is research-based, ensuring it meets the needs of children and families of prisoners in New Zealand.

The core programme is a home-based family wrap-around service, helping strengthen the care required for these children. This is coupled with a mentoring programme where a volunteer mentor is matched with a child or youth who becomes a stable and positive role model for them.

Group support networks allow caregivers to come together and find solutions for challenges they are facing.

In 2017 Pillars hosted an international conference in Rotorua. Almost 200 people attended from throughout New Zealand and the world to discuss a wide range of issues affecting the children of prisoners. The conference resulted in a book, edited by Pillars researcher Dr Liz Gordon, that is now a well-recognised collection of authoritative articles on this complex and challenging issue.

Pillars is committed to be a bi-cultural organisation with values underpinned by kaupapa Maori that respect and provide support for all cultures. All Pillars staff and volunteers are committed to culturally competent practices and cultural training is given to those who work directly with whanau and tamariki.

Kaibosh Food Rescue (Wellington)


Founded in Wellington in 2008, Kaibosh is New Zealand’s first food rescue organisation.

Kaibosh links the food industry with community groups that support people in need, ensuring that quality surplus food reaches those who are struggling, rather than being needlessly discarded.

This work benefits both vulnerable people in the community and the environment.

Working in Wellington and the Hutt Valley with the help of a dedicated team of more than 200 volunteers, Kaibosh rescues and sorts food seven days a week.

It delivers up to 25,000kg of quality surplus food each month to community groups that support people in need. That is the equivalent of 71,000 meals provided to those who need it most, as well as a 19,400kg reduction in carbon emissions.

The service is provided at no cost to food donors or community groups.

With its vision of “Zero Food Poverty, Zero Food waste”, Kaibosh won the Community Impact and Mega Efficiency Impact categories of the 2015 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards and was the Supreme Winner of the 2012 Trustpower National Community Awards – honours which have raised to profile of Kaibosh and the value of food rescue in New Zealand.

Dignity (national)


Dignity is a movement based on fairness, opportunity and compassion that seeks to ensure all girls and women can access sanitary items for free.

Dignity provides a women’s well-being initiative of which corporates can purchase a subscription to have sanitary items provided at their workplace and in turn support a buy one, give one model to provide sanitary items to girls in secondary school currently going without.

These corporate customers receive Dignity packages that include Organic Initiative sanitary items, display canisters and posters in the female bathrooms to provide for free to female employees.

The funds raised from corporate customers are then used to supply, free-of-charge, the equivalent number of boxes to schools to give to girls who can’t afford these items and, in some circumstances, are not attending school due to lack of access.

Dignity currently supports more than 50 schools throughout New Zealand, ensuring more than 10,000 students have access to vital sanitary products.

Dignity also seeks to play a leading role in actively reducing the stigma surrounding periods through awareness and women’s experiences being shared widely.

With women’s participation in the workforce increasing exponentially, Dignity recognised that the workplace, well-being and diversity could all be wrapped into this effective and tangible initiative.

Te Whangai Trust (Auckland/Waikato)

Te Whangai Trust.png

Te Whangai Trust is a social and environmental enterprise that assists long-term unemployed, youth and people at risk.

A pilot programme established in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development, the trust helps at-risk people through ongoing mentoring in a structured and safe workplace and providing them with life and work skills as well as educational opportunities.

Its goal is to place the people it works with back into the full time commercial market at the end of the programme.

An “eco-preneurial” social enterprise, the trust was established to help address the social issues facing people in the welfare system by tackling environmental issues with restoration and wetlands planting to meet compliance and regulatory requirements.

The trust’s activity-based learning platform is a native plant nursery. Te Whangai participants have created and work in the nursery, while receiving support with life and work skills, aspirations and whanau experiences and training in NZQA-accredited plant propagation and planting qualifications.

With increased skills, training, self-esteem and experience of employer expectations, Te Whangai’s participants are able to move more easily into employment. The success of the trust’s work has resulted in plans to replicate the programme throughout New Zealand.

The trust’s work is based on four community-based pillars – social, environmental, economic and cultural. These pillars provide community-led support, with collaboration of multiple organisations meeting the needs of the participants, whanau and the individual communities.

Individual programmes are based on the Maori Whare Tapu Wha philosophy of mind, body, spirit and whanau, establishing a holistic approach to positive change.

The Valley Project (Dunedin)

The Valley Project

The Valley Project’s vision is a strongly connected, healthy, sustainable community in Dunedin.

Its mission is to sustain processes which mobilise the community’s strengths and resources in locally-led action to enhance the life of the North East Valley Community – residents, families/whanau and environment.

Founded on values of engagement, empowerment, Manaakitanga, collaboration and relationships, the project engages residents, agencies, business and policy-makers to make the most of collective resources and energy for community priorities that influence Dunedin.

The project co-ordinates a range of initiatives, such as the Valley Card (a discount card for local businesses), Cosy Homes (a programme to help create warmer, drier, healthier homes in the valley) and Kai Share (which provides food boxes for families and people in need, in conjunction with FoodShare Dunedin).

It also stages annual and regular community events, such as Matariki celebrations, community dinners and CreekFest.

The project’s monthly Valley Voice community newsletter is delivered to more than 3700 homes in the area, providing services and resources for the Valley community. The project provides other service such as community rooms, cheap copying services and community education opportunities.

Zealandia (Wellington)


Zealandia is the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary, with an extraordinary 500-year vision to restore a Wellington valley’s forest and freshwater ecosystems as closely as possible to their pre-human state.

The 225ha ecosanctuary near Karori is a ground-breaking conservation project that has reintroduced 18 species of native wildlife back into the area, some of which were previously absent from mainland New Zealand for more than 100 years. It is now home to some of New Zealand's most rare and extraordinary wildlife.

Zealandia was created to ensure current and future generations can enjoy an ecosystem of remarkable flora and fauna that can be found nowhere else in the world.

The valley in which the sanctuary is located has been progressively restored to the way it was before the arrival of humans. With its 8.6km fence keeping out introduced mammalian predators, birds such as the tūī, kākā and kererū, once extremely rare in the region, are all now common sights around central Wellington. Other vulnerable native species such as tīeke, hihi, little spotted kiwi, and tuatara remain thriving safely in the sanctuary.

It aims to connect people with their unique natural heritage and inspire actions that transform how people live with nature in their cities, towns and beyond.

Zealandia currently has 556 volunteers working within the organisation across key areas of guiding, conservation, communications and marketing, and office assistance.

Membership is booming, with more than 11,000 people signed up. This level of community support has enabled Zealandia to play such a central, transformational role over the past 22 years, making it an important tourist attraction in the Wellington region as well as invaluable environmental education centre.

Menzshed (national)


Menzshed is a nationwide initiative that brings men together in one community space to share skills, companionship and support while working on practical tasks individually or as part of a group or community project.

Each “shed” works on its own projects, though most around New Zealand take on community projects such as building playgrounds for pre-school centres, repairing toy library stock, repairing old bikes for distribution to poorer communities and building planter boxes for the main street of their local central business district.

With many men, particularly older men, often experiencing some degree of social isolation, the sheds are intended to provide support, encouragement and mentorship for men from all walks of life. They foster greater understanding and camaraderie and allow men the opportunity to learn new skills.

Some sheds also provide sessions for women who wish to acquire new skills and get involved in personal or community projects.

Men are known to have smaller circles of friends than women, so sheds offer opportunities to foster new friendships outside the social circles they and/or their partners may have established.

They also encourage healthy living initiatives, allowing for health professionals to gain access to men who may otherwise not take as much care of themselves as they could.

Given men are more likely to avoid addressing key health issues such as mental health, the sheds provide informational talks and basic health checks in an environment where men are likely to feel more comfortable.

Collaborate (national)


Collaborate is a mobile app that matches young people with volunteer opportunities that are relevant to their skill set and interests.

Community organisations post specific tasks, (such as short-term web designing, or a beach clean-up), and connect instantly with volunteers who indicate interest.

Collaborate was founded by four young women – Holly Norton, Ceara McAuliffe-Bickerton, Poppy Norton and Sophie Harker – and is based on core values of community, involvement and doing good.

The four women wanted to make it easier for people to get involved in community projects that affected positive change.

They recognised that everybody had skills to make a difference but that finding out when and where people could make that difference was difficult. They saw lack of connection as the central issue and set out to make volunteering effortless and easy to access by adopting an “Uber-like” approach.

Since 2015, hundreds of community organisations, volunteers and changemakers have shaped the Collaborate app.

Through brainstorms, hackathons, design sprints, surveys and in-depth user testing, Collaborate has become an app bringing people and causes together seamlessly.

For community organisations, Collaborate allows them to post projects requiring volunteers.

Collaborate then allows volunteers to swipe through projects in their area, matching skills and interests with specific projects.

Community organisations using the app include Plunket, Trade School Industries, Age Concern and New Zealand Red Cross.

Kiwi Coast (Northland)


The Kiwi Coast is a collaborative initiative linking more than 100 community-led conservation projects, iwi and hapu, forestry companies, government agencies and organisations in the shared vision of increasing Northland kiwi numbers.

Its vision is to ensure kiwi can thrive and to see them safely roaming throughout Northland, nurtured and cared for by Northlanders. Its goal is to create New Zealand’s first modern-day kiwi corridor.

Kiwi Coast removes thousands of animal pests from its area every year, with all groups co-ordinated to making local forests healthier and native wildlife safer.

Unlike other parts of New Zealand, the kiwi are on now on the increase on the Kiwi Coast, thanks to the hard work of everyone involved.

Trap catch data collated across all the groups and projects shows that 229,372 animal pests were removed from the Kiwi Coast from 2013-17.

In 2017 alone, 59,641 animal pests were destroyed on the Kiwi Coast, equating to more than 1000 pests a week.

The Pūkeko Centre Project (Christchurch)


The Pūkeko Centre Project is an ambitious joint venture between the Parklands Bowling Club and Parklands Rugby Club that is working to rebuild and improve facilities in the east Christchurch suburb of Parklands.

The Parklands Bowling Club was established in 1992 and has a strong membership of 170.

The club’s facilities were badly impacted by the 2011 earthquakes, with both greens badly affected by liquefaction and the pavilion building damaged beyond repair.

The greens have undergone extensive repairs and are now fully operational. In the past few years the club has welcomed players from the South Brighton and Linwood Bowling Clubs, which were both left without premises after the earthquakes.

The club has taken the lead in reinventing itself to the benefit the wider community by embarking on the Pūkeko Centre Project joint venture with Parklands Rugby Football Club, which has also suffered significant disruption post-earthquake.

The project identified two ideally suited buildings at the nearby (and now closed) Freeville School.

The two buildings – a 15-year-old school hall and modern learning studio – were earmarked for demolition but, following an approach by the project, were gifted to the clubs by the Ministry of Education.

In May last year the buildings were relocated onto the bowling club’s site in Chadbury St. They are buildings are now being redeveloped into a multi-use sports and recreation centre with the help of a range of community and corporate groups.

The Pūkeko Centre will provide clubrooms for the two founding partner clubs and also a range of indoor and outdoor spaces that other community and sports groups can utilise. The adjacent Parkview Primary will also be able to use the new facilities.

Stage 1 of the project is fully funded, and the project is now actively seeking further sponsorship to realise the full vision for a centre that will be a jewel in the crown for the Parklands community.

The 10 semi-finalists for 2019 Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero of the Year are:

Jamie Allen (New Plymouth)

Jamie Allen

Jamie Allen turned personal tragedy into inspiration, founding and developing Taranaki Retreat, a friendly, welcoming place helping individuals and families deal with loss and life-changing challenges.

The former police officer and minister lost his daughter to cancer, forcing him to re-evaluate his own life and to try and understand how he might help others facing similar tragedies and challenges.

He quit his job and sold his home, purchasing a rural property near Omata that he has transformed into Taranaki Retreat, which offers residential and non-residential space and services for people in need.

With wife Suzy, Jamie provides support to people from all walks of life who are struggling with the pressures of day-to-day life, mental health issues and family challenges.

Jamie runs fundraising events to provides resources for the retreat to help make guests’ stay meaningful. Tapping into his exceptional community networks and through his tireless efforts, Jamie has brought the people of Taranaki together to help those in need.

Supporters are encouraged to lend a hand in all aspects of the operation of Taranaki Retreat, from volunteering for simple tasks such as weeding gardens and baking treats for guests through to working with local companies to secure donations of much-needed resources.

Taranaki Retreat does not charge guests, nor does it necessarily require referrals – all people need to do is ask for help.

From there, Jamie and his team work together with guests to determine whether the Retreat is the right “fit”, or to help other support people and organisations to finding pathways forward.

The whanau-based set-up focuses on community works, with simple house rules that all guests – as well as Jamie and Suzy – live by.

Jamie has turned personal tragedy into a beacon of hope for others. A father to four girls, Jamie says the hardest journey of his life was sharing daughter Carrie’s battle with cancer in 2012.

“She continues to make me the person that I am, and her presence in many ways is intimately woven into the journey of this retreat.

“Taranaki is all about the people, and they are truly like no other. This timeout space is more needed in our society than ever as so many of us experience depression and suicidal thoughts; and as our communication becomes increasingly virtual rather than person-to-person.

“The Retreat is about the good stuff: walking alongside one-another – and sharing and dealing with burdens. It is a kaupapa with some fantastic support and energy in our community, and I feel very proud to be a part of it.”

His vision has turned Taranaki Retreat into a haven where people to get help when they are at their lowest can come for help when they are at their lowest.

Pera Barrett (Wellington)

Pera Barrett

Christmas can be a tough time for many Kiwi families, so Pera Barrett set out to make the festive season a lot more joyful for children in need.

In 2014 Pera started Wellington Shoebox Christmas, building a team of volunteers to deliver Christmas presents to 80 children at a decile 1 school in Cannons Creek, near Porirua.

This Christmas, Pera and his team will deliver gifts to more than 4500 children at 35 schools throughout Wellington, Taranaki, Tauranga and Christchurch.

Shoebox Christmas also supports an Auckland project team and is helping establish operations in Palmerston North and even Melbourne.

The project is based around the concept of “giving twice” – first delivering presents to children that need them more than most and, secondly, facilitating giving. Pera organised more than 3500 volunteers last year to secure and deliver gifts, brightening the Christmas cheer of children in need.

The primary over-arching intent of Pera and Shoebox Christmas is to create positive, fun experiences and opportunities for under-privileged children. Per’s philosophy is that by letting children know that the community cares about them and that there are kind-hearted people available to help them, the more likely they are to make positive decisions as adults.

This year Pera is adding stationery starter packs to Shoebox Christmas to help students leaving for college next year who have been identified by their schools as coming from families that will likely struggle to afford their first-year stationery needs.

Pera believes that not having enough money for school needs in New Zealand isn’t a problem that a child should have to worry about, but that adults able to help have a responsibility to solve the problem.

He constantly strives to improve Shoebox Christmas by making it even more community-driven and self-sustaining, with the goal being to allow local programmes to drive their own projects.

As well as working fulltime in banking, Pera is also an author and a student mentor at his alma mater, Otaki College. The devoted father of two children under five is also a leader in the Maori community, specialising in technology education.

Jo Brady (Waimate)

Jo Brady

Jo Brady drew on her personal experience of a difficult upbringing to become a loving foster parent to children in need.

A single parent to five boys, Jo has provided a “home for life” to a number of New Zealand's most under-privileged kids.

Some of these children, who have previously been placed in several foster homes, are extremely hard to manage, with severe learning and behavioural problems. Some have been victims of sexual abuse and display violent behaviour.

However, Jo is unwilling to give up on them when others have. Through her firm but loving influence, these children have flourished as a result of Jo’s work to foster a sense of family, worth and belonging – something many of these vulnerable children have never experienced before.

Jo works hard to ensure that siblings are kept together, and she has actively campaigned for siblings to be placed with her, something that is pivotal in helping her foster kids settle.

She is Nana to 25 children and another 25 call her Mum. Even when children have grown and left Jo’s care, she remains a positive and dependable person involved their lives.

Jo currently cares for eight children in her small Waimate home, with husband Paul. Six of these children are foster children.

Jo also runs Waimate Main School’s breakfast club, which feeds more than children every morning and helps them learn boundaries and social skills to prepares them for school life. Wave, an organisation that supports the breakfast club, has endorsed Jo’s programme as the best of its kind in South Canterbury.

A woman with a huge heart, Jo’s dream to build a bigger home so that even more under-privileged children have a happy and supportive place in which to live.

Glen Green (South Auckland)

Glen Green

Glen Green believes strongly in the power of forgiveness.

Affected by domestic violence as a child, Glen’s anger manifested in bad behaviour and he was asked to leave school.

But, aged 14, his life took a positive turn when he began to play basketball. He also began working with a social worker, who showed him how to forgive his father and move forward positively in his life.

Seeing the benefits of forgiveness, Glen shared the message of forgiveness with other youth dealing with family problems.

Seeing basketball as a positive way to engage with youth, Glen encouraged his local council to develop a basketball court in Meadowbank. Local crime was reduced and young people in the area were shown how they might take a different path in life.

Glen went on to work as a youth worker for six years in Otara, Fiji, Perth and other communities in New Zealand, sharing his “Better Way” message and running one of the biggest youth movements in the country.

Joining the Police in 2006, Glen was soon promoted to Community Constable in Mt Roskill, where youth crime was on the rise. Knowing there had to be an alternative to simply arresting young people, Glen understood that by reaching out to the young people and showing them love, respect and forgiveness might offer new choices for them and their families.

Receiving permission to try his community model, Glen used his own salary to fund the project. Using basketball as the initial means to reach out to youth gangs, he asked how he could help. By building trust and respect, the project saw 20 families get involved, and the crime rate in Mt Roskill was significantly reduced.

After winning the Auckland Cities Community Safety Award and a mayoral commendation for his work in Mt Roskill, Glen resigned from the Police to become a fulltime volunteer helping at-risk kids.

Over the next five years he raised more than $200,000 for basketball gear for those who could not afford it and another $100,000 for the purchase of two portable courts for use in vulnerable communities.

In 2017, Neighbourhood Support, Police and Auckland Council asked Glen to develop a new school community model using Glen’s key values to inspire people to help one another and protect the communities they live in. He developed the "Captain Community Model", which is now being rolled-out across Auckland.

In addition, he approached Auckland businessman Bruce Pulman to seek land in South Auckland for the development of a basketball court for use by young people in the area. Having successfully secured a property, Glen brought on local businesses to help fund the construction of The Den, a world-class 3x3 basketball facility with seating for 300 people.

Barbara Halliwell (Wellington)

Barbara Halliwell began volunteering for Victim Support in 1998, becoming a Homicide Support Worker the following year.

Since then she has handled more than 400 cases and worked with more than 600 victims, logging a staggering 11,000-plus hours of counselling.

Barbara’s service has predominantly been on the high-end serious crime and homicide cases, many of them complex and difficult.

She developed an array of specialised skills, such as working alongside specialist police units and developing support plans for victims of serious crime.

Barbara has built exceptional professional relationships with CIB detectives and senior police staff, drawing on her knowledge of investigative and judicial processes to deal with complex and difficult crimes with sensitivity and professionalism.

Barbara works with victims involved in homicide cases throughout police investigations and subsequent court processes. It is a challenging role working with people who are vulnerable and dealing with grief and trauma. Her expert communication and facilitation skills ensure victims are supported.

In addition, she advocates on behalf of victims, guiding them through the complexities of the criminal justice system, attending hearings and providing hundreds of hours of court support. Many of the cases Barbara has worked on are high-profile and involve an extra depth of understanding about the impact of the media coverage on victims.

Committed to providing a seamless service to victims, Barbara is highly knowledgeable about all facets of New Zealand’s criminal justice system.

She also mentors new Homicide Support Workers, supports detectives in police training and speaks at conferences – a commitment that saw her awarded the Police Minister’s Public Safety Volunteer award in 2013.

Carl Jackson (Hamilton)

Carl Jackson

Carl Jackson lost three friends to suicide before his 14th birthday.

This trauma, coupled with extensive bullying at school and neglect and abuse at home, saw Carl spiralling into severe depression.

But rather than becoming a victim, Carl became a survivor. At 15 he began working with youth camps and retreats as a counsellor, a role that helped not only helped those he worked with but also Carl himself, who was still battling depression and suicidal ideation. It was his work helping others that helped him hang in through dark times.

In 2012, Carl was victim of an aggravated assault and robbery, suffering a serious head injury. The traumatic experience led him to step up his community involvement. He worked with the Big Brother Big Sister Programme, Refugee Resettlement for Red Cross, Disaster Welfare Support for Red Cross, MATES Men’s Network, Western Community Centre, Ministry of Youth Development and the Hamilton Youth Advisory Panel.

But Carl was losing his battle with depression and anxiety. Having made the decision to take his own life, Carl sought out Helpline for support. His experience led him to train as a telephone counsellor at Lifeline, helping people in the place he once was. He quickly became a trainer for the organisation, travelling weekly, at his own cost, to Auckland for training, shifts and events. He has also worked as a telephone counsellor for Youthline and YouthNet, the Hamilton charity he founded, and as a street youth work coordinator for Zeal in Hamilton.

YouthNet works in partnership with many organisations to promote mental health assistance for young people. To support his work, Carl has undertaken training in mental health and addictions support, as well as training as an assessor for NZQA qualifications in Youth Work.

He was worked on the frontline with people who have recently attempted or contemplated suicide or self-harm, and now also works with people who have non-verbal autism.

Now 27, Carl is a well-known and respected advocate for youth in Hamilton and New Zealand. He still struggles with depression and anxiety but refuses to let these hold him back. As inspiration to many in Hamilton, Carl’s positivity and hard work has been integral to his success.

Annaliese Johnston (Auckland)

Annaliese Johnston

Despite a brain injury, Annaliese Johnston works tirelessly to highlight poverty and homelessness in New Zealand through the Park Up For Homes initiative, which she organised with friends.

A lawyer, Annaliese, now 27, has chosen to remain in a social policy role to make a difference for children and families who need it.

Over the years, she has contributed to academic and social justice-focused publications.

Research she led, entitled Beyond the Prison Gate, addressed the links between prison and rough sleeping. A time-consuming and emotionally demanding project, Annaliese’s research has highlighted issues with New Zealand’s current criminal justice system.

The Park Up For Homes initiative drew national attention to the issues of poverty homelessness, and particularly poverty and homelessness in South Auckland. Annaliese’s focus remains on reforming systems to address the root causes of vulnerability in society.

As a volunteer, she is heavily involved with two very different areas of vulnerability. She sits on the Governance Board of Child ALERT, an organisation combating child sexual exploitation.

Her involvement with youth justice think-tank JustSpeak, which began while she was at University, sees her regularly contributing to analyses of the impacts of the criminal justice system on youth.

Jit Kaur (Auckland)

Jit Kaur

Domestic violence knows no colour, race or social status, but it is an issue that hits close to home for Jit Kaur and her daughter, Sonia.

Cultural nuances often mean the Asian community is not very open about domestic violence.

After a murder-suicide involving an Indian mother and her child in South Auckland, former prime minister Helen Clark asked Jit to establish the Sikh Women’s Association to tackle domestic violence.

Founded in 2002, the Otahuhu-based organisation provides specialised support and counselling for migrant families experiencing domestic violence.

Jit saw that many in the Asian community were not very open about domestic violence, seeing it as something that brought shame on families. That meant victims had nowhere to go or anyone to seek help from who understood the problem as it related to migrant communities.

The Sikh Women's Association deals with about 15 new cases a week through police and court referrals or drop-ins.

More victims are now reporting abuse – including Jit’s own daughter, Sonia. Having escaped a violent marriage in Malaysia, Sonia now lives in Glendowie and works alongside her mother at the Sikh Women’s Association.

The association’s mission is to strengthen and empower migrant families experiencing the dynamics of family violence while settling into a new society, and to ensure safety and well-being by providing effective and holistic support services.

Derek Lardelli (Gisborne)

Dave Lardelli

Derek Lardelli is regarded as one of Aotearoa New Zealand's finest tā moko artists. He has been prominent in explaining and promoting the revival of the art and its spiritual significance throughout Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific.

With a background in teaching, fine arts and classical Māori literature, Derek is principal tutor and associate professor, at Toihoukura, the School of Maori Visual Arts and Design based at Gisborne's EIT Tairawhiti campus.

As well as being a celebrated and multi-faceted visual artist, Derek is also a carver, kapa kaka performer, composer, graphic designer and researcher of whakapapa, tribal history and kaikorero.

He was the commissioning artist for the Maui sculptures that adorn Hikurangi, director of the Tā Moko Delegation to the South Pacific Arts Festival in Palau (2004), led a working exhibition of tā moko at Te Papa as part of the New Zealand Festival of the Arts (2004) and has exhibited in and facilitated many exhibitions and workshops in New Zealand and overseas.

In 2006, Derek undertook a Masters’ programme at Canterbury University's Ilam School of Fine Arts, writing his thesis, Tā Moko – Traditional Pathways Contemporary Connections. That same year, he designed the fern motif for the uniforms worn by New Zealand's Commonwealth Games team and created background images to feature behind the original Air New Zealand koru logo. He was the first recipient of an artist-in-residence programme at Gallipoli and composed the All Blacks’ haka Kapa o Pango.

Derek is the chair of Te Uhi, the Tā Moko Arts Collective and a trustee of Toi Māori Aotearoa. He has been the All Blacks’ cultural advisor since 2005.

Derek is heavily involved in kapa haka, coaching and leading East Coast kapa haka group Whangara-mai-Tawhiti to become supreme winners at the national kapa haka championships.

As a fluent speaker of Maori, he maintains a strong commitment to the culture, language and customs of his ancestors, building connections to the land, marae and people, to his whanau, hapu and iwi.

Derek lives in Gisborne with his wife and children. He is actively involved in many facets of Te Ao Māori in his region and continues to work as a practicing artist. In 2004, he received an Arts Foundation Laureate Award and in 2008 was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Verna McFelin (Christchurch)


Verna McFelin formed Pillars, an organisation that provides support to the children of prisoners, after her husband, Paul, was sent to prison in the 1980s, leaving her to bring up their four children on her own.

Knowing the affect her husband’s incarceration had on her children, Verna decided to help other families in similar situations.

Pillars provides affected children and families with mentors to help them understand and cope with the loss of a parent or caregiver to custodial sentences.

Verna’s own story influenced the development of Pillars and its programmes.

Once her husband, Paul, was arrested, she found there was little help and support for the families and children of prisoners. She met other families at prison visiting time who shared their own experiences, leading to her decision to set up support groups. This led to the creation of Pillars in 1988.

Pillars has always been an innovative organisation, running a range of group, residential and children’s services over the years. It has held contracts with CYF and Corrections, for support of families, reintegration and other services.

Current programmes include intensive social care for families, mentoring programmes for children, Family Pathway Centres in prisons where children can bond with their fathers at prison visits, a Helpline service, support groups, a Family Start Pilot programme at Dunedin prison, a wraparound mental health pilot and Invisible Sentence training.

Verna has a strong and personal commitment to the children of prisoners, who she believes are often left to pay for crimes they did not commit. was the first international website for children of prisoners. It was launched by Pillars ambassador and All Black Brad Thorn prior to Christmas 2010.

Just Us provides clear information for children, families and support professionals to help build understanding about the experience of having a parent in prison and the range of strategies for support.

In recent years, Pillars has hosted a research programme on the effects of imprisonment on families and children, with the aim of identifying the factors that cause inter-generational offending and to prevent the children following in parental footsteps.

The research which was conducted 2009-2011 was world breaking and has engaged the interest and involvement of a wide range of justice and social service agencies in New Zealand and internationally, as well as Te Puni Kōkiri.

Named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2012, Verna works tirelessly to break a cycle that means the children of prisoners are 9.5 times more likely to end up in prison than other children.

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