Famous people (New Zealand)
Where can I find information about famous people in New Zealand?
Entry last updated: 11/01/23
Famous New Zealanders come from all walks of life like sport, politics, the arts, science and technology. They are famous because their achievements make them stand out in their field. Famous people are often called heroes or icons, but if they are famous for wrongdoings then they are called notorious!
This entry will help you find biographies and information about the achievements of people who are well known and have made their mark in New Zealand.
Some famous New Zealanders
Here is a list of some famous New Zealanders but there are many more. You will find information about them and other famous people on the websites we have chosen for this entry. Some New Zealanders have their own official websites, trusts, and foundations set up in their name, like the ones highlighted below.
Jean Batten (1909 - 1982): Aviator.
Sir Peter Blake (1948 - 2001): Yachtsman.
Thomas Edmonds (1858 - 1932): Manufacturer.
Hōne Heke (1807 - ): Māori leader.
Te Puea Herangi (1883 - 1952): Māori leader.
Witi Ihimaera (1944 - ): Writer.
Taika Waititi (1975 - ): Filmmaker and actor.
Jacinda Ardern (1980 - ): Politician.
Lorde (1996 - ): Musician.
Richie McCaw (1980 - ): All Black.
Ernest Rutherford (1871 - 1937): Scientist.
Kiri Te Kanawa (1944 - ): Opera singer.
New Zealand websites
Here are the best places to start when looking for information about famous New Zealanders.
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (DNZB)
DNZB is part of Te Ara — The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. It has over 3,000 biographies of New Zealanders who have ‘made their mark’ on this country. It does not include people who are alive. This site includes around 500 biographies that are in te reo Māori. DNZB belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.
There are several ways to use this website:
- Use the search bar to search for a particular name like Apirana Ngata and Kate Sheppard.
- Or you can browse last names by letter.
- Or go to Featured biographies and select from one of the categories.
NZHistory has a section called People which has information about famous New Zealanders. This site also belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.
- Select People and browse alphabetically for people like Whina Cooper. Notice that the biography also appears in te reo Māori, and has links to other websites.
- Or look down the home page to Featured biographies and select someone to read about eg the poet James K Baxter.
Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.
This website promotes New Zealand overseas and part of this is acknowledging famous New Zealanders and their achievements.
- To find a list of famous people and their stories go to Legends from the top of the page.
- You can select names from Legends Index, Legends List and Top Legends Tags.
Tips: Websites that have .com in their web address can have good information but to check how reliable it is, look for the About link on the webpage.
This public library website has a section on homework resources for kids which includes information about famous people in New Zealand, as well as websites for you to explore further.
- Find the tab called Learning, then select Homework resources for kids.
- Look down the page and select People. You will find links to websites on famous people.
- Under Famous New Zealanders look for People to read biographies and interviews with famous people in New Zealand.
- Select Local People for information about historical people in Christchurch and its surrounding areas.
Tips: The information on this website is written by librarians from Christchurch City Libraries so the information should be well researched and reliable.
EPIC is a collection of databases that have been put together especially for New Zealand school students. We have selected two databases for this entry.
This site includes historical and current biographies of famous people, including some New Zealanders.
- Search for the name of a New Zealander.
- Or enter in the keywords 'New Zealander' to browse a list of famous New Zealanders from a variety of different fields.
Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg New Zealander. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.
This online encyclopedia has a Biographies section that includes some New Zealanders.
- Choose Middle.
- You can search for the name of a Famous New Zealander.
- Or go to Biographies.
- Open the search bar under National/Cultural Association.
- Look down the list and choose New Zealander.
- Browse the pages of results.
Tips: To use the EPIC resources you will need a login and password from your school librarian or you can login to AnyQuestions between 1pm and 6pm Monday to Friday and one of our librarians will help you online.
Famous people are often in the news when their achievements and life events are reported. Check the websites below for the latest news.
This is the website for the Fairfax group of newspapers in New Zealand. It features national news, world news, business, opinion, sports and entertainment etc.
- Use the search feature to enter in the name of a famous person in politics, business or sports etc and read the latest news about them.
You can also watch, listen to and read news items from 1 News, one of New Zealand's main news programmes.
- Go the magnifying glass on the top right of the page.
- Enter the name of your famous person to find recent stories.
Tips: Some websites have .au, .nz, .uk or other codes in their url. This can tell you which country this website comes from eg .au is from Australia or .nz is from New Zealand. You can check the About Us link on the website for more information.
Your school library and local public library will have books about famous people in New Zealand. Here are some suggested titles:
- People in New Zealand History (series) by Kevin Boon
- Wahine Toa (series) by David Riley
- New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame: 25 Kiwi champions by Maria Gill
- New Zealand hall of fame: 50 remarkable kiwis by Maria Gill
- Speed King: Burt Munro, the world's fastest Indian by David Hill
- Impossible by Stan Walker
- Off loading with Sonny Bill Williams by David Riley.
SCIS no: 1832722
Sir Apirana Ngata
Where can I find information about Sir Apirana Ngata?
Authors (New Zealand)
Where can I find information about New Zealand authors?
Hōne Heke (? - 1850)
Where can I find information about Hōne Heke?
Kiwiana (New Zealand)
Where can I find information about Kiwiana?
Where can I find information and statistics about rugby?
Singers & musicians (NZ)
Where can I find information about New Zealand singers and musicians?
Charles Upham (1908-1994)
Where can I find information about Sir Charles Upham?
Where can I find information about the Olympic Games?
Jean Batten (1909 - 1982)
Where can I find information about Jean Batten?
Where can I find information about famous people?
Where can I find information about the Commonwealth Games?
Sir Edmund Hillary
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Prime Ministers (NZ)
Where can I find information about the different Prime Ministers of New Zealand?
Dame Whina Cooper
Where can I find information about Dame Whina Cooper and the land march of 1975?
Where can I find information and statistics about cricket?
New Zealand Wars (1840s-1870s)
Where can I find information about the New Zealand Wars?
Famous New Zealanders
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Māori creators, leaders and heroes
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Māori music & performance
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Kate Sheppard (1847-1934)
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Sir Peter Blake (1948-2001)
Where can I find information about Sir Peter Blake?
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Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937)
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