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Kiwibank New Zealander Of The Year Awards ­– Ngā Tohu Pou Kōhure O Aotearoa Finalists Announced For Six Categories

If there was ever a time to celebrate what connects New Zealanders – our people – it’s now. The New Zealander of the Year Awards Office is pleased to announce the 18 finalists being considered in six categories for the 2021 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards ­­– Ngā Tohu Pou Kōhure o Aotearoa set to take place on 31 March 2021.

The Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year – Te Pou Whakarae o Aotearoa finalists for 2021 are:

  • Farid Ahmed: Muslim community leader who has become an icon of forgiveness following the 15 March terror attacks (Christchurch)
  • Ranjna Patel: Founder and Director of Tamaki Health and domestic violence social entrepreneur (Auckland)
  • Dr Siouxsie Wiles: Microbiologist and science communicator (Auckland)

Miriama Kamo, Te Koruru – Patron of the Awards, says: “In these challenging times, we believe compassion, commitment and creative solutions are key to keeping our communities connected. Across the world, intolerance and misinformation seek to divide us - but our three finalists look to inform, to uplift, and to unite. We are proud to present them as the finalists for the next Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year – Te Pou Whakarae o Aotearoa.”

Following the 15 March 2019 attack on the Christchurch mosques, Farid Ahmed became a global symbol of peace and forgiveness. After losing his wife in the attacks, Farid demonstrated how faith and love could provide a pathway to navigate deep grief. Awarded an international peace prize for his ongoing work, Farid published Husna’s Story in March 2020, donating all royalties to St John Ambulance.

When Ranjna Patel was asked to offer guidance around family violence in in the South Asian community in 2013, she identified a crucial missing step in family violence intervention – engaging offenders in their own rehabilitation. In 2014, she established the first Gandhi Nivas home for perpetrators in Otahuhu, providing innovative early intervention and prevention services for Kiwi men. A study undertaken by Massey University looked at men five years before entering Gandhi Nivas and after, and found 60% of men did not re-offend.

When Covid-19 first hit New Zealand, Dr Siouxsie Wiles rose to the challenge. Up against considerable criticism – on her authority, on her appearance, on her gender – she's stood tall to speak to hundreds of millions globally. Her work helped us all to see beyond the fear and complexity of the pandemic, to understand not only what was happening, but also how we could, and can continue to, collectively respond.

The annual Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards are in their 12th year. The Awards celebrate and honour extraordinary Kiwi from all walks of life; those who inspire, give hope and lead across the six different Award categories.

The Awards Office received a record number of nominations in 2020 that were rigorously evaluated by at least two rounds of independent and diverse judging panels.

The six winners will be announced at the New Zealander of the Year Awards – Ngā Tohu Pou Kōhure o Aotearoa Gala Dinner in Auckland on Wednesday 31 March 2021.

Previous winners of the New Zealander of the Year award are: Jennifer Te Atamira Ward-Lealand (2020), Mike King (2019), Kristine Bartlett (2018), Taika Waititi (2017), Richie McCaw (2016), Sir Stephen Tindall (2015), Dr Lance O’Sullivan (2014), Dame Anne Salmond (2013), Sir Richard Taylor (2012), Sir Paul Callaghan (2011) and Sir Ray Avery (2010).

Other Category Finalists for 2021:

University of Canterbury Young New Zealander of the Year – Te Matatahi o Te Tau

  • Dr Zhiyan Basharati: PhD in forensic psychology and dedicated advocate for refugees and migrant, founder of Christchurch Victims Organising Committee (Christchurch)
  • Brianna Fruean: Environmentalist and voice of Pacific youth on climate change (Auckland)
  • Jazz Thornton: Co-founder of Voices of Hope and mental health advocate (Auckland)
     

Ryman Healthcare Senior New Zealander of the Year – Te Matapuputu o Te Tau

  • Robert Tuahuru Edwards: Chairman of Te Whakatōhea committee (Ōpōtiki)
  • Alison McLellan: Fouding memner and advocate for The Brain Injury Association (Auckland)
  • Dr Doug Wilson: Medical academic and author (Taupō)
     

Trade Me New Zealand Innovator of the Year – Te Pou Whakairo O Te Tau

  • Kami: Bob Drummond, Alliv Samson, Jordan Thoms, Henjie Wang: Founders of the education application, Kami (Auckland)
  • Ranjna Patel: Founder and Director of Tamaki Health and domestic violence social entrepreneur (Auckland)
  • Craig Piggott: CEO of Halter Limited (Auckland)

Mitre 10 New Zealand Community of the Year – Nga Pou Whirinaki o Te Tau

  • Christchurch Mosque Victims Group: Supporting people and victims affected by the Christchurch Mosque attacks (Christchurch)
  • Te Puea Memorial Marae Indigenous Homeless Service Delivery Model: Response to homelessness in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland)
  • Trees That Count: Helping Kiwis plant native trees to help make an impact on climate change and improve the environment (Wellington)

Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero of the Year – Te Pou Toko o Te Tau

  • Mataio Brown: My Fathers Barber, author, speaker and survivor of physical and sexual violence (Christchurch)
  • Aigagalefili Fepulea’i-Tapua’i: Voice for South Auckland students during Covid-19 hardship (Auckland)
  • Shannon Te Huia: Environmental Engineer at Waka Huia Limited (Waikato)
     

For more information on the 2021 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Awards – Ngā Tohu Pou Kōhure o Aotearoa finalists please visit www.nzawards.org.nz.

 

Background

  • Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Award ­­– Te Pou Whakarae o Aotearoa honours the achievements and contributions of an inspirational Kiwi who has made a big, positive contribution to our country this year. Their pursuit of excellence can be in any area; science, business, the arts, cultural or community involvement, te Ao Māori, sport, education, and health. Their achievements have positive effects on how we feel about our nation and ourselves.
  • Previous winners of the New Zealander of the Year Award are: Jennifer Te Atamira Ward-Lealand (2020), Mike King (2019), Kristine Bartlett (2018), Taika Waititi (2017), Richie McCaw (2016), Sir Stephen Tindall (2015), Dr Lance O’Sullivan (2014), Dame Anne Salmond (2013), Sir Richard Taylor (2012), Sir Paul Callaghan (2011) and Sir Ray Avery (2010).
  • Trade Me New Zealand Innovator of the Year Award – Te Pou Whakairo o te Tau recognises a person or group who, in the spirit of Kiwi inventiveness and resourcefulness, have created a better New Zealand.
  • Mitre 10 Community of the Year Award – Ngā Pou Whirinaki o te Tau recognises a rōpū - group of people that together have made an outstanding difference to their community this year. They foster a strong sense of Kotahitanga – community spirit and their achievements enhance the social, economic, cultural or environmental prosperity of their rohe - region making it stronger and more vibrant.
  • University of Canterbury Young New Zealander of the Year Award – Te Matatahi o te Tau recognises a young person brimming with the potential to bring about change and produce a bright future for Aotearoa, striving across the last year to improve themselves and their whole community.
  • Ryman Healthcare Senior New Zealander of the Year Award – Te Matapuputu o te Tau recognises those who have made a positive contribution to our great nation later in their life. This award gives New Zealanders of all ages the opportunity to express their appreciation and admiration for the achievements of our Senior New Zealander’s over the past year.
  • Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero of the Year Award - Te Pou Toko o te Tau recognises everyday people doing extraordinary things in their local hapori – communities over the past year. This award acknowledges the enormous contribution, sacrifice and commitment of kiwi who have selflessly worked to make their local hapori a better place.

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