The 12th annual Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year award is to be announced this evening, along with five other categories of Kiwis who have made a difference to the country over the past year.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will present the New Zealander of the Year award. Last year’s winner, Jennifer Te Atamira Ward-Lealand, is also expected to be included in the ceremony, held at Auckland’s Cordis Hotel.
The finalists for the main award are microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles, Christchurch Muslim community leader Farid Ahmed and Ranjna Patel, who’s worked to help domestic violence offenders.
Wiles has been a familiar face to New Zealanders during the Covid-19 pandemic, giving her expert advice to the media. The Auckland University associate professor has a PhD in microbiology and was named the Supreme Winner of the 2020 Women of Influence Award. She stands out as an advocate for women in science.
Christchurch Muslim community leader and peacekeeper Farid Ahmed has been recognised by many as an icon of forgiveness following the Christchurch terrorist attack in 2019.
Despite losing his wife in the attack, Ahmed chose to demonstrate peace in order to heal and show people how love and faith can provide a better pathway to navigating deep grief.
Ranjna Patel from Auckland is in the running for the award for her work trying to help rehabilitate domestic violence offenders. Patel is the founder and director of Tamaki Health. She's recognised by many people as a "community hero".
Previous notable award-winners for New Zealander of the Year include comedian and mental health advocate Mike King in 2019, equal pay campaigner Kristine Bartlett in 2018 and movie director Taika Waititi in 2017.
Other category finalists for 2021:
University of Canterbury Young New Zealander of the Year – Te Mātātahi 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 Mātāpuputu 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, Hengjie 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 – Ngā 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).
ShannonTe Huia: Environmental Engineer at Waka Huia Limited (Waikato).