Cecilia Sullivan-Grant MNZM

New Zealand Local Hero of the Year



New Zealand Local Hero of the Year

Te Pou Toko o te Tau

These are the individuals who have made a positive difference in their corner of Aotearoa. From Cape Reinga to Bluff, these Kiwi show selflessness and determination to make a difference.

To be eligible for this award, the nominee must be an individual who has made (or is making) a significant contribution to their region, town, suburb, community, iwi, or local group. The impact can be across any field or have displayed courage in overcoming personal adversity.

Nominators should consider talking about the following areas in their nomination:

  • THE NOMINEE: Describe the person you are nominating and what they’ve done to inspire you over the past year to nominate them as 2024 Kiwibank Local Hero of the Year Te Pou Toko o te Tau.
  • PURPOSE: Who benefits from the work, contribution, or influence of this person – and how?
  • LEADERSHIP: How does this person set a positive example for other members of their local community?
  • COMMITMENT: Describe the commitment of time, risks, and challenges overcome to create an impact to this point (this may still be ongoing). What have they done that has gone above and beyond to show leadership, create change, and give back?
  • PROVEN IMPACT: How has this person clearly demonstrated a positive impact in their local community

Conditions of Entry


How do the Kiwibank Local Hero Awards work?

  1. All Local Hero nominations are divided up into regions across Aotearoa
  2. Nominations for each region are then sent on to the three Local Hero Judges for that region, for their consideration.
  3. Nominations are scored by regional Local Hero Judges based on the criteria above
  4. The top 100 (highest scoring) Local Hero nominees across New Zealand will be honoured in December. While we won’t be having official medal ceremonies this year, we’re making sure we recognise these inspiring New Zealanders by sending each of them their medals — and even hand-delivering a few throughout Aotearoa
  5. The 100 Local Hero Medallists go forward to Category Judging Day in November for the 2023 Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero of the Year Te Pou Toko o te Tau national award and 10 semi-finalists will be announced in mid-January
  6. The 10 semi-finalists will be considered at the Executive Judging Day in late January. Three will be announced as the finalists in the New Zealand Local Hero award in February, and of those three, one will be awarded the 2024 Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero of the Year Te Pou Toko o te Tau title at the Gala event in March 2024 in Auckland

Cecilia Sullivan-Grant MNZM

Billie is the brains and organiser behind the dance troupe The Hip Op-eration Crew which is made up of a group of senior Waiheke Island residents with the average age of 81 (including five over 90 years of age and some with dementia, visual or hearing impairments; and others who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids). Billie taught herself how to dance through YouTube and initially established the world’s oldest flash mob in 2012 which performed in Auckland’s CBD and suburbs for a year, before evolving the group into a hip hop dance troupe in 2013 with the goal to perform at the World Hip Hop Dance Championships in Las Vegas in just eight months time. They achieved their goal and performed at the World Championships in August 2013.

2014 was a stellar year for Billie and the Hip Op-eration Crew, with their feature documentary winning awards all over the globe and the dance crew travelling to Taiwan to perform to an audience of 17,000. In 2015 Billie and her dance group made it into the Guiness Book of World Records as the oldest dance troupe on the planet. They still hold this title. A smaller group went on to perform in Japan in 2016, the same year Billie was awarded a Queen’s Honour for her charity work changing the perception of ageing.



Sally Walker


Dr Ellen Joan Nelson (nee Ford)


Dave Letele


Shannon Te Huia


Nick Loosley


Pera Barrett


Ricky Houghton


Hayden Smith


Selwyn Cook


Billie Jordan


Cecilia Sullivan-Grant MNZM



New Zealand Local Hero of the Year

Steve Jurkovich

Kiwibank Chief Executive

“Kiwibank has been a part of New Zealander of the Year and the Local Hero Awards for over 14 years. It’s an ideal partnership for us as it is so aligned with our purpose to make Kiwi better off. The local heroes we are here celebrating tonight are making a difference to New Zealand communities that is real, lasting, and local. They’ve stood up to give others a voice of support, to break down social barriers and to tirelessly serve their community. More often than not, these are humble individuals. True local heroes aren’t in this for 15 minutes of fame, instead they care about the difference they are making in the lives of their friends, families and communities. It’s about how they are making Aotearoa and our communities better off too.”