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University of Auckland’s Inaugural 40 Under 40 List

Meet the inaugural 40 under 40

Forty exceptional individuals in fields from plastic surgery to psychedelic rock music have been named in the University of Auckland’s inaugural 40 Under 40 list.

The list recognises graduates who are making a significant contribution to their field and community. It comprises six categories: business leaders, influencers, performers, entrepreneurs, humanitarians, and disruptors and innovators.

“Out of our 185,000 alumni in New Zealand and around the world, 70 per cent are under the age of 40,” says the Director of Alumni Relations and Development, Mark Bentley. “Recognition of achievement often comes later in life but we wanted to celebrate the game changers and high achievers now and draw inspiration from their accomplishments.”

One, Rez Gardi, escaped persecution from her homeland of Kurdistan to live in a United Nations refugee camp in Pakistan, before emigrating with her family to New Zealand. She went on to gain law and arts degrees at the University of Auckland and was named Young New Zealander of the Year in 2017 for her humanitarian work.

Closer to home, Dannevirke-born Alanna Simpson says she was motivated to study geology after hearing harrowing stories from her grandparents, who were both survivors of the 1931 Napier earthquake. She joined the World Bank in 2012 where she coordinates disaster risk management activities in Europe and Central Asia countries.

Other notable entries include business leader Alex Fala, MP Chloe Swarbrick, musician Ruban Nielson, Pushpay co-founder Chris Heaslip, lawyer Kiri Toki and biotech consultant Ipshita Mandal.

“In a world increasingly dominated by high achievers under 40, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern, it seems the mantle of leadership is being passed to a new generation,” Mark Bentley says. “The contributions of the 40 are inspiring, and their personal stories fascinating and often moving.”

While many were originally from Auckland or other centres around the country, six had moved to New Zealand as teenagers from countries such as Ukraine, Kurdistan, Botswana, Malaysia, India and Fiji.

The full 2017 40 Under 40 list can be viewed at -


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