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Wellingtonian of the Year finalists for 2016 named

Julian Dennison, centre, has been named as a finalist in the youth category for Wellingtonian of the Year. He's pictured here with Sam Neill, left, and Taika Waititi, who won the arts category of the awards in 2014


The finalists for this year's Wellingtonian of the Year awards have been named.

This year 44 Wellingtonians who shine in their field have been nominated in nine categories. The overall winner will be selected from the category winners.

The awards honour and celebrate the work of those who make the capital the place it is. 

Judging convenor John Dow said the field of finalists showcased the range of quality and capable people who were empowering other people, events, teams, initiatives and industries in a successful and collaborative way. 

They showed the positive attitude and momentum that was apparent in Wellington. 

The winners of each category and the overall winner will be announced during a dinner on November 10 at Te Papa. 

This year's finalists are:


Bill Gosden has been the director of Wellington's International Film Festival for over 30 years. Successfully programmed by Bill and his team to cater to a myriad of tastes, NZIFF this year set a new Wellington record for attendances.

Ray Henwood has spent a lifetime pretending to be other people and taking millions of transfixed viewers along for the ride. Circa Theatre celebrates its 40th birthday this year, and Ray was intimately involved in its conception and is still playing lead roles.

Drew James is the Artistic Director of CubaDupa. Called in to create a festival for Cuba Street, Drew did that and more – this year 100,000 attended the two-day event that brings Cuba St to life.

Carla Russell, executive director of the NZ Art Show, has been involved in the show since its inception. Thousands of Kiwi artists have sold more than $11 million of art with 110,000 people enjoying the exhibition over the 13 years.

Samuel Flynn Scottis aco-founder of The Phoenix Foundation, and plays with the Bunnies on Ponies. Sam composes music for films and ads, and is a four-time Silver Scroll nominee who co-produced Dave Dobbyn's latest album.


Simon Bright is CEO of Wellington-born IT services company, Intergen, Bright has developed an organisation that people are proud to be part of, where everyone plays a vital role in achieving transformational business outcomes for clients.

David Lyfordis managing director of Rembrandt. With a lot of the manufacturing now sourced off-shore, David clocks up the air miles making sure every garment is fit to carry the 70-year-old Rembrandt brand.

Sarah Meikle is festival director at the Wellington Culinary Events Trust. She's been core lead at signature event Visa Wellington On a Plate from the get-go.

Chris Wilkinson is the founder of First Retail Group, a consultancy that advises retail chains, property owners and governments on strategy, performance and risk. 


Shari-ana Clifford runs Kai For Kids, a Porirua-based not-for-profit ensuring that all kids get lunch at school. Starting out at five schools with 300 lunches, Shari-Ana now has the community behind her and dishes 1200 lunches a week.

Martin Hanleyand Anna Kemble Welch have been helping organise the Newtown Festival since the beginning 22 years ago, curating New Zealand's largest annual street fair and free music festival, a favourite Wellington celebration attended by over 80,000.

Scott and Malcolm Kennedy-Vaughan are co-founders of The Chrissy Witoko Memorial Trust and owners of S&M's Cocktail Lounge in Upper Cuba St, providing outstanding contributions to Wellington's LGBTIQ community.

Stephanie McIntyre is director of the Downtown Community Ministry. She's been a long-time advocate for social justice and has built DCM into an organisation providing practical help for people living on the streets while addressing the underlying issues of homelessness.

Tracy Wellington set up and runs Kiwi Community Assistance. The group is a distribution hub, collecting donated goods - from fresh food to whiteware household items – and distributes them out to local schools, foodbanks and other charities.


John Fiso was until recently the owner and CEO of the New Zealand Institute of Sport and New Zealand College of Massage. From its early days with just 18 students in Porirua, John built the Institute into a thriving organisation with campuses in three major cities.

Raima Kingi is a teacher at Paekakariki school. In the 26 years she's lived in the town, Raima has been involved in almost every aspect of education.

Azra Moeed's involvement in science education has been extensive. She has taught from early childhood to tertiary level in Wellington. 

Prabha Ravi, Director of International Education at YMCA Central and a trained classical Indian dancer/teacher, Ravi has worked tirelessly over 15 years to promote NZ education.

Darren van Hoofis lead ranger, education and youth, at Zealandia. With his team he has developed innovative and fun ways to engage almost 10,000 kids (and grown-ups) per year in conservation.


Victor Anton is a PhD student in the School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University who has been involving the community and using novel technology, like camera-traps, to study the impacts that introduced predators have on native birds in Wellington. 

Hannah Duder and Samantha Jones run Little Yellow Bird, a company supplying ethically made corporate workwear.

Kelvin Hastie is the Crofton Downs resident who saw a weasel walking down his street one day and got angry. After a one-year trapping campaign, Crofton Downs is predator-free and Kelvin's now NEXT's Predator Free Community Champion looking to do the same across Wellington. 


Chris Bishop was born and raised in Lower Hutt, and is now a very effective National Party list MP. A qualified lawyer, he's also an award-winning debater and he's a passionate supporter of the Hutt Valley.

Kerry Prendergast, former Mayor of Wellington, is still very busy in our community. She chairs Tourism NZ, EPA, NZ Film Commission, and, until recently, the NZ Festival; and is on boards like Wellington Free Ambulance.

Dr Jan Wright is the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. For nearly a decade she has provided high-quality, independent advice to Parliament, producing a series of readable reports on a wide range of environmental issues.


Nancy Bertler, Associate Professor at the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University and GNS Science, is a pioneer of climate research. Nancy has led 13 expeditions to Antarctica, and manages the New Zealand Ice Core Research Laboratory at GNS Science.

Neil Cook is co-founder of Arotec, a company producing high quality antigens for the diagnostic industry. The business has grown over the years to become a valued and trusted supplier worldwide, and has attracted considerable overseas investment. 

Natasha Lampard and Mike Brown are co-founders and owners of Webstock,  a web technology conference held annually in Wellington. Now in its ninth year, Webstock has grown in size and stature, with reps from Google and Facebook in this year's audience.

James Renwick is Professor of the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences at Victoria University, with over 30 years' experience in weather and climate research. 


Dane Colesplays at hooker for the Hurricanes and Wellington Lions and was a member of the 2015 Rugby World Cup winning All Blacks. But most importantly he captained the Hurricanes to their maiden Super Rugby title this year.

Chris Boyd and John Plumtree Chris is the head coach and John the assistant coach of the Hurricanes and while they might be called the odd couple of coaching, there's nothing strange about their achievement this year - bringing home the Super Rugby championship.

Samantha Lee was the first New Zealand woman to swim the 100m butterfly in short course in under one minute and just last month grabbed seven gold medals at the World Lifesaving Champs in the Netherlands. 

Ardie Savea has earned a reputation for his dynamic play as a loose forward for the Wellington Lions, Hurricanes and – this year - the All Blacks. 

Nick Willisis the former Lower Hutt boy who made history winning bronze in the 1500 metres at Rio - the event's oldest ever medallist at 33, and the first New Zealander to win two Olympic medals over the distance.


Benjamin Bellis a 17 year old entrepreneur. Recently Ben presented his project Wellbands at Stanford MedicineX in California, ran a Startup Weekend event, presented a TEDx talk and was the youngest participant in the R9 Accelerator 2.0.

Julian Dennison made his acting debut in the 2013 feature "Shopping", winning him the NZ Film Award for Best Supporting Actor. But it's his role opposite acting legend Sam Neill in Hunt for the Wilderpeople that has everyone taking notice.

Catherine Pot, from Onslow College, is a physics wiz. She won several prizes at this  year's Science Fair and was in the New Zealand Young Physicists team which won silver medals at the 2016 World Cup of Physics in Russia.

Rachin Ravindra is an opening batsman playing for  Hutt International Boys' School and the Wellington under-19 opening batsman. Rachin was selected last year to play in at the Under-19 Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh.

Andrew Tang, a Year 12 student at Scots College, has won the 2016 Sir Paul Callaghan Eureka! Premier Award for his presentation on using Algae as a Biofuel. Andrew took out the award over 6 tertiary and 5 secondary school finalists. 


Original article at: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/wellington/85026409/Wellingtonian-of-the-Year-finalists-for-2016-named?cid=app-android

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