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Next’s Woman of the Year 2019

OCTOBER 11, 2019

Next’s Woman of the Year 2019 is Changing the Way We Deal with Cancer

The achievements of some incredible Kiwi women were in the spotlight at the 2019 NEXT Woman of the Year Awards, in association with Elizabeth Arden. Six winners were honoured at the Cordis Hotel in Auckland last night among colleagues, friends and other influential New Zealanders.

Professor Diana Sarfati was named the Supreme Winner for her ground-breaking work in relation to cancer treatment and cancer control, especially in championing the needs of Māori and Pacific Island communities.

“Back in my early days as a clinician”, Sarfati explains, “it was sort of accepted that Māori had worse survival rates, and that this was because they weren’t going to the doctor, they weren’t recognising symptoms, they weren’t taking up the treatments that they were offered – basically they weren’t doing what they were told.”

Through her research, Sarfati became instrumental in convincing the government to establish a Cancer Control Agency. She was named interim national director of the agency in August.

“Now I’m really thinking about how we make the system work better for all people, and for Māori in particular,” she says.

NEXT editor-in-chief and judge, Nicky Dewe says, “Diana struck us all as a shining example of a woman who’s used her talent and training to do something truly meaningful. Recognising inequities in the healthcare system that were costing people their lives, she’s devoted herself to addressing the problem.

Thanks to her, this has become a national priority. While she admits she has a huge task ahead, she is driven by her desire to see a fairer and better outcome for all.”
Dame Jools Topp and Dame Lynda Topp were named as the co-recipients of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award, acknowledged for their activism in many areas including women’s rights and their staunch support of the LGBTI community; using their music to shift public views and push for political change.

When asked by NEXT to reflect on her career and role in shaping New Zealand culture, Lynda commented on the aspect she is most proud of – standing up early on for their beliefs and sexuality.

“If everybody stays true to themselves, that’s a great success. There are the lefties and the righties in this world but if everybody stays true to themselves, you know who they are. We’re pretty proud, we feel like we’ve been accepted and haven’t had to compromise in any way.”

The annual NEXT Woman of the Year awards is celebrating its tenth year and has seen more than 300 women recognised for excellence in their fields. The awards were launched in 2010 to celebrate the achievements of remarkable women who are driving progress for New Zealand. Since its inauguration, the awards have evolved to recognise New Zealand women in six distinct fields: Health and Science, Arts and Culture, Sport, Business and Innovation, Education, and Community. This will be Elizabeth Arden’s third year of association with the awards.

The other category winners for NEXT Woman of the Year 2019 were:
Arts & Culture: Samantha Scott is the founder of the Massive Theatre Company, which nurtures and develops acting talent from age 14 up. She has enabled hundreds of actors, as well as directors to become successful in their fields via her mentoring programme, The Directors' Lab.

Education: Dianne Daniels founded Digital Wings, a charity that is making digital literacy accessible to all New Zealanders through linking corporate and government organisations with the community for the donation of surplus computer equipment.

Sport: Neelusha Jennings is founder of Limitless with Support, a charity that pairs able-bodied and disabled people with common interests. She is also an endurance athlete despite facing her own disability after an autoimmune reaction at the age of 16.

Business & Innovation: Helen Robinson has revolutionised female personal hygiene products through her company, Oi (Organic Initiative), the fastest growing hygiene brand in New Zealand.

Community: Dr Zhiyan Basharti formed the Christchurch Victims Organising Committee to assist survivors and victims’ families with translation and practical matters in relation to the Christchurch mosque attacks.

The NEXT Woman of the Year winners were chosen by a judging panel featuring The Project’s Kanoa Lloyd and principal sponsor Elizabeth Arden’s General Manager Valerie Riley, as well as NEXT Editor-in-Chief Nicky Dewe.

The winners are featured in the November issue of NEXT, on sale from October 14. To find out more, visit our website,

2019 NEXT Woman of the Year winners:
Supreme Winner: Professor Diana Sarfati
Lifetime Achievement Award: Dame Jools Topp and Dame Lynda Topp
Arts & Culture: Samantha Scott
Business & Innovation: Helen Robinson
Community: Dr Zhiyan Basharati
Education: Dianne Daniels
Health & Science: Professor Diana Sarfati
Sport: Neelusha Jennings

Previous Supreme Winners:
2010: Dr Emma Parry – established the NZ Maternal Fetal Medicine Network
2011: Lesley Elliott – founded the Sophie Elliott Foundation
2012: Julie Bartlett – founder of Star Jam
2013: Julie Chapman – founder of KidsCan
2014: Sita Selupe – CEO of the Rise UP Trust
2015: Claudia Batten – head of North America for NZ Trade Enterprise
2016: Billie Jordan – established the Hip Op-erations Crew
2017: Kristine Bartlett – activist for gender pay equity
2018: Philippa Howden-Chapman – director of He Kāinga Orana


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