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Siouxsie Wiles 'proud' and 'privileged' to be crowned 2021 New Zealander of the year

When Covid-19 first started to build speed, Siouxsie Wiles says she felt dutybound to help prepare Kiwis for what would happen in the coming months.

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The epidemiologist told Breakfast she felt grateful to be able to offer her expertise throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Source: Breakfast

Now the newly crowned New Zealander of the Year is "proud" and "privileged" to have been able to make an impact in the country’s Covid-19 response.

She’s particularly delighted of the work done alongside The Spinoff cartoonist Toby Morris, helping to unpack the key concepts relating to Covid-19 and were picked up by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“As a scientist who really admires the WHO, it does feel a little weird that the things I wrote for The Spinoff are now appearing on the World Health’s website. Like wow,” she told Breakfast’s John Campbell this morning.

While she may be one of the more recognisable people of the pandemic, Wiles acknowledges there are many other hardworking Kiwis on the frontline.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern presented the microbiologist with the award. Source: 1 NEWS

“I’m one of the really visible faces of Covid but thousands and thousands of people are contributing to our success," she says.

"I just see this as part of my job… the research clearly shows that the communities that come together are the ones that survive.”

Having spent parts of her life living in the United Kingdom as well as South Africa, Wiles says she’d never felt like she had a home until she moved to New Zealand.

“I’ve moved around, I’ve lived in different countries, I’ve never really known where home was and it hasn’t really been until the last few years that I’ve felt, actually this is my home.”

Wiles says she’s grateful to New Zealand for taking her in and making her feel that way.