Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards

We’ve proudly partnered with the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards for more than a decade, honouring extraordinary Kiwi whose selflessness, creativity and vision make us proud to call New Zealand home.

About the awards

The Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards has six award categories and we sponsor two of them: the New Zealander of the Year Award and New Zealand Local Hero Award.

Meet your 2021 winners

These remarkable New Zealanders have had an outstanding impact on their communities; boldly leading by example through an undeniably tough year. Their innovation, commitment, selflessness and vision reflect the best of Aotearoa.

Dr Siouxsie Wiles

New Zealander of the Year 2021

Dr Siouxsie Wiles is an award-winning scientist who has used her expert knowledge of microbiology to empower a lot of New Zealanders. Siouxsie has made a career of manipulating microbes, and heads up the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab at the University of Auckland where her team makes bacteria glow in the dark to understand how infectious microbes make us sick and to find new antibiotics.

Siouxsie is passionate about demystifying science and has won numerous prizes for her efforts including the Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication Prize in 2013. In 2017, she published her first book ‘Antibiotic resistance: the end of modern medicine?’ and in 2019 was appointed a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to microbiology and science communication.

Throughout COVID-19, Siouxsie joined forces with The Spinoff cartoonist Toby Morris to make the science of the pandemic clear and understandable. Releasing their work under a Creative Commons licence, their graphics have been seen by millions and even used by governments and organisations as part of their official pandemic communications. Their work has undoubtedly helped to save lives, and her leadership through uncertain times has been recognised around the world.

Shannon Te Huia

Local Hero of the Year 2021

Shannon Te Huia has shown great initiative in Te Taiao – our natural environment. In 2015, Shannon established Pūniu River Care, an iwi-based initiative that aims to improve water quality and biodiversity by planting trees along the banks of the 60-kilometre-long Pūniu River in the Waikato region.

The organisation is completely rooted in te ao Māori, and alongside delivering solid, quantifiable results for environmental indicators, it has an equally strong focus on cultural, academic and vocational training: a holistic approach that improves the health and wellbeing of the environment as well as the strength, capacity and mana of its people. To begin, Pūniu River Care initiated a specialist horticultural course through Wintec so that local people could become experts in native plants. It now has more than 30 local people running a 2.5-hectare marae-based nursery that produces 500,000 plants each year.

Hundreds more people have learnt from their holistic model at wānanga, community events and marae open days, where Shannon and the team openly share their knowledge and actively help other organisations become established. Pūniu River Care collaborates with a diverse range of organisations, including Department of Corrections prisoner training programmes, schools, iwi, community groups and research organisations.

Previous New Zealander of the Year winners

Jennifer Ward-Lealand Te Atamira CNZM: 2020 New Zealander of the Year

Actress and te reo Māori me ngā tikanga advocate Jennifer Ward-Lealand Te Atamira has amassed an extraordinary body of work throughout her 40-year career as an actress and director, significantly raising the profile of the performing arts industry in New Zealand.

Mike King: 2019 New Zealander of the Year

Mental Health advocate Mike King is founder of the The Nutters Club and Key to Life Charitable Trust. On the I Am Hope tour, Mike delivered 70 talks to more than 20,000 school students across the country. Mike also leads Gumboot Friday, an initiative aimed at creating greater mental health awareness and raising money for free youth counselling.

Kristine Bartlett: 2018 New Zealander of the Year

Rest home caregiver Kristine Bartlett is a reluctant hero. She doesn’t like being the centre of attention, but found herself thrust into the limelight when her landmark court battle won pay rises for about 55,000 of the health sector’s lowest-paid workers.

More about inspirational Kiwi

Learn more about the journey of previous Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year nominees and winners who’ve achieved extraordinary things and made a positive difference to the lives of others.