Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (pictured in blue)
In a recording career that lasted over 50 years, with 48 years as a full professional (1968-2017), she wowed audiences worldwide with her opera performances and soprano voice. Her performances have earned her honours from not only New Zealand, but also Australia and first, in England, where she has lived since 1965. She was elevated to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, for services to opera, in the 1982 Queen's Birthday Honours. She was appointed to the Order of New Zealand in the 1995 Queen's Birthday Honours. In the 1990 Australia Day Honours, she was also appointed an Honorary Companion of the Order of Australia, for services to the arts, particularly opera, and to the community. She also had three top 40 albums in Australia in the mid-1980’s. In 2004 she set-up the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, in a bid to assist outstanding NZ opera singers and musicians with their international careers. She was named ‘Iconic New Zealander of the Year’ in 2012.
Sir Peter Jackson
He’s a man that is known around the world for his work on the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. A visionary director and creator, he has played a key part in both the New Zealand film and tourism industry. Working with Weta Workshop and WingNut Films based in Wellington he has directed, written and/or produced over twenty feature films. Peter and his wife, the screenwriter Fran Walsh, have worked together on all the movies that Sir Peter Jackson has directed since 1987. They combined to help restore cinemas and theatres across Wellington including; Bats Theatre and The Embassy in Wellington Central and The Roxy in Miramar. He is a World War I and II aviation enthusiast, is the Chair of the Omaka Aviation Heritage Trust in NZ and owns the aircraft restoration company, The Vintage Aviator. After releasing his World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, his latest project is a documentary on the Beatles, titled The Beatles: Get Back. He was knighted in the 2010 New Year Honours, when he was promoted to Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to film.
Currently a member of the super band Fleetwood Mac, Neil Finn is a Kiwi music icon and arguably the country’s most famous longest-serving musician, as he has been active since 1976. From Split Enz, to Crowded House, to his solo career and his latest role as part of Fleetwood Mac, everything Neil has done has been a success. He has collaborated and recorded with many artists, from Kiwi legends like Dave Dobbyn to global superstars like Stevie Nicks. He also records music with his brother Liam, his sons Elroy and Liam, his wife Sharon and has contributed his music to film/television, including; “Song of the Lonely Mountain” for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and multiple songs for the TV show Boston Legal. He is a multi-award-winning artist, he has won best songwriter, international achievement, top male vocalist and best songwriter for the hit song “Fall at Your Feet”. Recently he has reunited Crowded House and they are planning a 2021 tour.
A visionary Kiwi director who is at the peak of his powers and in high demand by Hollywood right now, he has been active since 1999 and has become a Kiwi legend already at the young age of 45 years old. He has directed feature-length films, successful commercials, music videos, and TV series, including an episode of Disney’s Mandalorian. He won an Academy Award for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) for his film JoJo Rabbit and was nominated for six Academy Awards in total. His two Kiwi made feature films Boy (2010) and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) have each been the top-grossing NZ films. He was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in 2020. As well as directing and writing, Taika stars in films, including Boy and JoJo Rabbit as well as stealing any scene he was in throughout his blockbuster Marvel film Thor: Ragnarok, with his appearances as the Kiwi sounding rock man ‘Korg’.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister is an important person to know about, especially as her party has been recently been re-elected in the latest election by a large margin to begin her second term. She is the 40th Prime Minister of NZ, has been a member of Parliament since March 2017 and leader of the Labour Party since 2017. She became the world’s youngest female head of Government at the age of 37 in 2017.
The Topp Twins
Jools and Lynda Topp, twin entertainers who have been performing since 1981, are known throughout Aotearoa for their characters, country music and hilarious antics. They are national treasures here, who have been inducted into the NZ Music Hall of Fame and performed countless gigs across the country over 40 years.|
Albert Einstein is a name that is world-renowned due to his impact on the scientific world. Roy Kerr’s name is much less well-known, but he is forever linked with the greatness of Einstein due to his discovery of ‘Kerr geometry’, ‘Kerr solution’, ‘Kerr metric’ or ‘Kerr vacuum’, which is an exact solution to the Einstein field equation of general relativity. He discovered the solution to Einstein’s equations that define the space outside a rotating star or black hole. Kerr won many awards after his discovery, including the; Hector Medal, Hughes Medal, Rutherford medal, Marcel Grossman Award, Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, Albert Einstein Medal, Crafoord Prize and he was also made an honourary Doctorof Science by the University of Canterbury.
Richard ‘Richie’ McCaw
New Zealand’s national sport is rugby and its most famous ex-captain turned adventure racer is Richie McCaw, a double world cup winning legend of the game who is considered one of the greatest to ever play the game. He famously turned down a Knighthood in 2011 after winning his first World Cup and declined again after his second win of the cup as captain in 2015. He was instead appointed the youngest-ever member of NZ’s highest honour, the Order of New Zealand, which is limited to 20 living New Zealanders at one time.
Dame Valerie Adams
A sportswoman who ruled her sport of shot-put for over a decade, she won two Olympic gold medals, four world championship golds, four indoor world championship golds, two world cup golds, one world youth championship gold, one junior world championship gold, and three commonwealth games golds. Her medal total consists of 15 golds, four silvers and one bronze. Adams dominance was underlined when she threw the shot put a remarkable 21.24m in 2011 to win the World Championship and set a record for the event, the most recent record throw set in the sport. In the 2017 New Year Honours, Adams was named a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Her youngest brother is NBA player Steven Adams. This year she was honoured with a barbie made in her likeness.
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