Sir Mark Dunajtschik

Senior New Zealander of the Year


Ryman Healthcare

Senior New Zealander of the Year

Te Mātāpuputu o te Tau

Ryman Healthcare
The people who are creating a legacy for tomorrow. The ones who have made a positive contribution to Aotearoa later in their life, actively involved in making the world around them a better place.

To be eligible for this award, the nominee must be aged over 70 years and continue to make a positive contribution in Aotearoa, following their career in any service, sector or field. The nominee must be a role model to the wider community, particularly over the past 12-months.

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

  • THE NOMINEE: Describe the person you are nominating and what they’ve done later in life to inspire you to nominate them as 2024 Ryman Healthcare Senior New Zealander of the Year Te Mātāpuputu o te Tau.
  • PURPOSE: Who benefits from the work, contribution, or influence of this person – and how?
  • LEADERSHIP & SERVICE: How does this person set a positive example of being a senior member of the community – showing potential for making change at any age.
  • 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 following their career, achievements, or service to create change and give back?
  • PROVEN IMPACT: How has this person clearly demonstrated a positive impact in their area of influence? How has this been measured?
  • LONG-TERM IMPACT: If known, how does the nominee plan to continue, grow, and/or adapt their work, contribution, or influence going forward? How would winning this award impact this person and the work that they are doing?


Conditions of Entry

Sir Mark Dunajtschik

Born in Yugoslavia but of German ethnicity, Sir Mark Dunajtschik spent three years in a Yugoslav concentration camp during WWII before escaping with his mother and becoming a refugee in Germany. He eventually arrived in New Zealand, where decades later he is considered one of our nation′s most significant philanthropists − pouring his time, energy and resources into a diverse range of causes. In 2022 − along with his life and business partner, Dorothy Spotswood − Dunajtschik has once again channelled his success back into the community, with a recent commitment to donating $40 million-$50 million towards a new acute mental health unit at Hutt Hospital (following a $50m donation to build a new children′s hospital in 2017). Among his many endeavours, his financial support enabled Wellington helicopter pilot, the late Peter Button, to set up an air rescue service, now called the Life Flight Trust, which has been credited with saving 22,000 lives.



Bob Francis


Sir Mark Dunajtschik


Rereata Mākiha


Dr Doug Wilson MNZM


Dame Margaret Sparrow


Dr Bill Glass


Sir Kim Workman


Sue Paterson


John Russell


Donald Sew Hoy



Senior New Zealander of the Year

Cheyne Chalmers

CEO, NZ Ryman Healthcare

“We’re absolutely delighted to support the Senior New Zealander of the Year Award. We know there are thousands of older Kiwis who never retire, and continue to make a massive contribution to their communities and New Zealand as a whole. We think this Award is an excellent way of recognising how much they give back.”