Biographies of the New Zealander of the year semifinalists

The shortlist for Kiwibank New Zealander of the year has been released. Here is why they have been nominated.

Sam Hunt

Sam Hunt, 69, is a thirsty, wild-haired writer opening the Q Theatre's Christmas season in Auckland. Source: Seven Sharp

A New Zealand poetry icon, Sam Hunt has been a key player in New Zealand poetry for the past five decades.

He was awarded a Queen's Service Medal in 1986, named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2010 and won the Prime Minister's Poetry Award in 2012. 

As a pre-eminent poet he has taken poetry out of confines of the literary world to the streets, to the everyday New Zealander.

His poetry reflects our way of life, making the literary form relevant to New Zealanders. 

Hunt released his 22nd collection of poems Salt River Songs earlier this year. 

Taika Waititi

Waititi has joined the Disney family after helping screen write their upcoming Princess movie ‘Moana’. Source: 1 NEWS

The Kiwi filmmaking sensation's work both in New Zealand and overseas has made a huge contribution to New Zealand's cultural identity. 

Taika Waitit's fourth feature film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, premiered this year at the Sundance Film Festival.

The movie broke records for a New Zealand film, beating his previous 2010 film Boy in its opening weekend. It also gained international critical acclaim.

Waititi's first major Hollywood film, Thor: Ragnorak will be released next year.

Karen Walker 

Walker stopped showing at NY Fashion Week for the first time in 20 years because she "doesn’t need to". Source: Breakfast

New Zealand fashion mogul, Karen Walker has achieved remarkable international success in one of the most competitive industries.

The fashion designer has inspired a huge number of Kiwi designers with her creativity and grounded approach to business. 

Her Karen Walker brand is available in 38 countries, 200 cities and 1020 stores, including Barneys in New York, Liberty London and Harvey Nichols. 

She has been consistently ranked for the past four years in the Business of Fashion's powerhouse BoF 500, reflecting her influence in the global fashion industry.

Graeme Dingle

Mountaineer and adventurer, Graeme Dingle has continually achieved global firsts throughout his career, including his first ascents of mountains in the Himilayas, the Andes and New Zealand.

Dingle was the founding chairman of the New Zealand Outdoor Assembly, and served as chairman of the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre and The Project K Charitable Trust. 

With the help of partner and co-founder Jo-anne Wilkinson, Dingle established the Graeme Dingle Foundation, to help young Kiwis achieve their potential.

Major Campbell Roberts

Major Campbell Roberts of the Salvation Army talks to ONE News. Source: 1 NEWS

As National Director of Social Policy for The Salvation Army in New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga, Major Campbell Roberts has actively contributed to New Zealand society.

He is the founder of The Salvation Army Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit, working towards elimination of poverty in New Zealand through the engagement of national, political, corporate, government, education and media leaders in New Zealand.

Roberts is described as a passionate New Zealander who is committed to helping those at the margins of New Zealand society.

He has been a national spokesperson and commentator on issues of poverty, prison reform, housing, welfare and employment.

Mike King

Mike King says NZ is not focusing on the 80% of the country who know nothing about mental health. Source: Seven Sharp

Mike King started his career as a stand-up comedian and has since drawn on his own experience with mental illness and addiction to become a prominent mental health advocate. 

He has challenged the way Kiwis feel, think, talk about mental health.

King is both a mental health educator and motivational speaker working to reverse the trends of addiction, depression and suicide in New Zealand.

Phillip Mills

Phillip Mills is the founder and Chief Executive of Les Mills International, founder of green business lobby group and Pure Advantage.

The former track and field athlete has written a number of articles advocating for action on climate change and the financial benefits of a clean, green economy.

The Pure Advantage Trust strives to showcase domestic and global green growth advantages and foster national discussion about the economic and environmental benefits of the advantages to New Zealand.

Mere Berryman

As an educator and researcher, Mere Berryman has led trial programmes to support teachers to work effectively with Maori students in a range of education settings.

Through kaupapa Maori approaches, she has pioneered resolutions to problems, and an understanding to support the expertise of children and their families.

Ms Berryman had an instrumental role in establishing the Te Kotahitanga professional development programme.

Dr Malcolm Legget

Dr Malcolm Legget is a consultant cardiologist who was part of the team that established CT coronary angiography and percutaneous aortic valve implantation through the Auckland Heart Group and Mercy Angiography.

He is also a professor of Medicine at the University of Auckland and continues research into valvular heart disease. 

Dr Legget was diagnosed with pancreatic neurodocrine tumours and as chairman of Unicorn Foundation New Zealand, he supports others suffering with cancer.

Minnie Baragwanath 

Minnie Baragwanath is partially sighted and has had a leading role in creating social change for disabled New Zealanders.

She has been described as having an innovative approach to problem-solving and social change, which has led her to be interested in ways New Zealand can be strengthened socially, economically and culturally.

She is the CEO and co-founder of Be. Accessible an agency working to shift how New Zealanders value accessibility, especially for those with access needs.

Ms Baragwanath received the Sir Peter Blake Leadership award in 2013 and was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit Queens Honour in 2014. 

Source: 2017 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year