Famous people (New Zealand)

Where can I find information about famous people in New Zealand?

Image: Richie McCaw by shafraz.nasser on Flickr.

Entry last updated: 13/01/21


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 described heroes or icons and if they are famous for wrong doing then they are called notorious!

In this entry we will show you how to 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 these and other famous people on the the websites we have chosen for this entry. Some New Zealanders have their own official websites or Trusts or Foundations that have been set up in their name, like the ones highlighted below.

Jean Batten (1909 - 1982): Aviator.

Peter Blake (1948 - 2001): Yachtsman.

John Britten (1950 - 1995): Inventor.

Dave Dobbyn (1957 - ): Musician.

Thomas Edmonds (1858 - 1932): Manufacturer.

Bill English (1961 - ): Politician.

Janet Frame (1924 - 2004): Writer.

A J Hackett (1958 - ): Entrepreneur.

Hone Heke (1807 - ): Māori leader.

Te Puea Herangi (1883 - 1952): Māori leader.

Edmund Hillary (1919 - 2008): Mountaineer.

Sam Hunt (1946 - ): Poet.

Witi Ihimaera (1944 - ): Writer.

Peter Jackson (1961 - ): Filmmaker.

John Key (1961- ): Politician.

Frederic Truby King (1858 - 1938): Founder of Plunket.

Lorde (1996 - ): Musician.

Richie McCaw (1980 - ): All Black.

Apirana Ngata (1874 - 1950): Māori politician.

Ernest Rutherford (1871 - 1937): Scientist.

Kate Sheppard (1847 – 1934): Suffragist.

Kiri Te Kanawa (1944 - ): Opera singer.

Charles Upham (1908 - 1994): Soldier.

John Walker (1952 - ): Runner.

General websites

Here are some good places to start when looking for information about famous New Zealanders.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is a great place to start looking for New Zealand information. Use this resource to find information about famous New Zealanders who are still living like Richie McCaw and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Type your famous person's name into the search bar to bring up all the stories in which their name is mentioned. You may also see images and media.

Te Ara Biographies

The Te Ara biographies were originally published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Use this resource for biographies of people who are no longer alive like Apirana Ngata and Kate Sheppard.

There are several ways to use this website:

  • Use the A-Z to browse biographies.
  • Use the search bar to search for a particular name.
  • Browse for biographies by occupation.
Tips: We like these websites because they are government websites so you can trust the information. You can tell this because they have .govt in the web address.


This website promotes New Zealand overseas and part of this is acknowledging famous New Zealanders and their achievements. You can find a list of famous people and their stories by going to the Legends pages.

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.

Christchurch City Libraries

This public library website has a section especially for Kids which includes lots of information about famous people in New Zealand, as well as websites for you to explore further.

  • Choose Homework from the menu on the left.
  • Look under Subject guides for the heading People.
  • Choose People on our website for a list of biographies.
  • Or, scroll to the bottom of the page to the heading Sports Teams for a list of useful websites with information about sports people.
Tips: The information on this website is written by librarians form Christchurch City Libraries so the information should be well researched and reliable.

EPIC resources

EPIC is a collection of online resources that have been put together especially for New Zealand school students. For this topic, we suggest the three EPIC resources listed below.

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.

Biography in Context

This site includes historical and current biographies of famous people, including some New Zealanders.

  • Search for the words 'New Zealander' to browse a list of famous New Zealanders from a variety of different fields.

Britannica School

This online encyclopedia has a Biographies section which includes some New Zealanders. As well as a search function, you can also bring up a list of famous people in New Zealand.

  • Choose Middle or Secondary.
  • Go to Biographies.
  • Open the search bar under National/Cultural Association.
  • Look down the list and choose New Zealander.
  • Browse the several pages of results.

Australia / New Zealand Reference Centre

Look here for newspaper and magazine articles from New Zealand and Australian newspapers and magazines. Just type your famous New Zealander's name into the search bar.

Tips: Tick the box 'Full text' so you can read the whole article.

News websites

Famous people are often in the news where their achievements and life events are reported. Check the websites below for the latest news.


Look here for articles from main daily newspapers in New Zealand. Use the name of the person you are looking for to search the news.


You can also watch, listen to and read news items from TV1, one of New Zealand's main TV channels.


Your school library and local public library will have books about famous people in New Zealand. Here are some suggested titles:

SCIS no: 1832722
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