Role models

Where can I find information about role models and how to choose one?

Image: Dame Valerie Adams, of Auckland, DNZM, for services to athletics by Government House on The Governor-General of New Zealand.

Entry last updated: 13/01/21


A role modelis a person that you look up to, respect, and want to be like. You get to choose your own role models based on the kind of person you want to be, so you might choose someone because of their behaviour, or their achievements, or other good qualities that inspire you. These people might have things in common with you, like where they live or their interests or their dreams, or they might be completely different! It's up to you to decide what you want to look for in a role model.

General Websites

Role models can be people you know like family or friends, but you can be inspired by people that you haven't met. There are so many people doing good and important things all over the world, and these websites can help you discover them.

Britannica School

This is an EPIC database. EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.

  • Choose a level you want to explore. We recommend starting with Primary, but you can change your level later.
  • Scroll down the page and click on Biographies.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.


Ducksters is an educational website with information that is easy to read. It includes fun facts and activities.

  • Scroll down the page and select Biography.
  • Use the headings to guide you to the type of person you are looking for eg world leaders, explorers, artists, or sports people
  • Select a name to find their biography eg Sir Edmund Hillary.
Tips: Some websites have advertisements (or ads) which ask us to buy something or tell us to ‘click here’. It’s best to ignore these ads and focus on the information we’re looking for.

Academy of Achievement

This website is full of information about people who have achieved something great.

  • Open the search bar by selecting the magnifying glass on the top right hand of the screen.
  • Search for a name such as Sir Peter Jackson.
  • Search by keyword such as scientist or musician.
Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About the Academy link on on this website. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

New Zealand Websites

Have a look at these websites to find information about New Zealand role models.

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

This website is part of Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand, an excellent site for New Zealand topics. This site includes around 500 biographies that are in te reo Māori.

There are different ways to find biographies. You can:

  • scroll to the bottom of the page and browse the featured biographies, or
  • enter a name into the search bar eg Howard Morrison, or
  • select the link for Advanced Biographies to discover someone new by choosing occupations, places, or tribal affiliations and selecting the button for apply.
Tips: Use this resource for biographies of people who are no longer alive.

NZEDGE Legends

This website has lots of short biographies of New Zealanders who have changed or impacted the world.

  • Find the Legends List on the left hand side of the page.
  • Choose a name eg Ernest Rutherford.
Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About link on the website. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

Topic Explorer

Topic Explorer is an online tool from the National Library of New Zealand. It contains resources on a variety of topics in a range of formats eg articles, books, images, and videos. These resources have been selected from reliable national and international sources.

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.


Here are a few suggestions for books to look at. Ask your school or local librarian for more!

New Zealand hall of fame : 50 remarkable Kiwis by Maria Gill.

Māori role models : inspirational kōrero from inspirational Māori by Te Aorangi Harrington and Paora Tibble.

Go girl : a storybook of epic NZ women by Barbara Else.

Boy oh boy by Cliff Leek.

SCIS no: 1952342

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