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March 15, 2012

Thirteen Famous New Zealanders


When I first started traveling most people didn’t know much about my home country. Once the Lord of Rings movies came out everyone suddenly knew more about New Zealand. But there’s more to New Zealand than gorgeous scenery. We have produced some very interesting and famous people. My TT this week is about famous New Zealanders.

Thirteen Famous New Zealanders

1. Sir Peter Blake – sailor and navigator. Famous for his lucky red socks during the America’s Cup campaign. Murdered by river pirates while on an environmental research trip on the Amazon River.

2. Sir Edmund Hillary – mountaineer and explorer. First man, along with Sherpa Tenzing, to climb Mt Everest. Famous for the immortal words, “We knocked the bastard off.” He was born in Tuakau, the same town where I lived and went to school. He is on the NZ $5 note.

3. Peter Jackson – film director and actor. Famous for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

4. Bruce McClaren – famous international motor racing driver, engineer and designer. His name is still used in Formula 1 motor racing to this day. Died while testing one of his cars.

5. Herbert J (Burt) Munro – land speed record holder in his motorcycle. His story is told in the movie The Fastest Indian staring Anthony Hopkins.

6. Kate Sheppard – Women suffragette and responsible for helping women to get the vote in New Zealand. New Zealand women were the first in the world to get the vote. She is on the NZ $10 note.

7. Kiri Te Kanawa – Opera singer. She sang at Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding.

8. Ernest Rutherford – Scientist who split the atom. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908. He is on the NZ $50 note.

9. Dame Edith Ngaio Marsh – a very good mystery writer.

10. Sir Peter Snell – athlete and gold medal winner at the Rome and Tokyo Olympics. World Record holder.

11. Jane Campion – Film director. Her works include The Piano, which starred a young Anna Pacquin.

12. Jean Batten – Aviator. She set many solo flying records such as first direct flight from England to Auckland in 1936.

13. Sir Truby King – Founder of the Plunket Society for babies in New Zealand. Well known as a health reformer and a Director of Child Welfare. He was the first New Zealander to be given a state funeral.

Extra – Richard Pearse – is said to have flown almost nine months earlier than the Wright Brothers.

Okay quiz time – have you heard of any of these famous New Zealanders?

Sources: Wikipedia, New Zealand in History


  1. Heather

    I have heard of four for sure — 2, 3, 7 and 11. Thanks for enlightening us, Shelley! ;-)

  2. Jennifer Leeland

    Everything I ever knew about New Zealand I learned from you and Ngaio Marsh. She’s one of my absolute favorite authors.
    And I didn’t realize Sir Hilary was from NZ!!! Great TT.

  3. Adelle Laudan

    Looks like I have a ‘new to me’ author to check out, Ngaio Marsh Thanks!
    Very interesting post.
    Happy T13!

  4. Alice Audrey

    Um… no, actually. I hadn’t heard of any of them. But then, I live under a rock. What can I say?

  5. Maddy Barone

    I’ve heard of only four of them. I think it’s cool that your money has people like that on it instead of just prime ministers and founding fathers.

  6. Brinda

    I hate to admit that I don’t know of these famous people. Is the Munro related to you? :)

  7. Mr Munro

    No, not related. Shelley will disapprove with what I am about to comment on, too bad! Burt was also well known for Munro water. Urinating on a lemon tree. It is extremely good fertilizer, our citrus thrive on it!

    • Shelley Munro

      Mr. Munro *shaking head* what am I going to do with you?

      • Maria Zannini

        I’ve been hearing about this for years though I’m told it should be diluted with water. I often ask hubby to fertilize my citrus trees. I never ask what he uses for fertilizer though. LOL!

        Ref: NZers
        I only got 5 out of 13. I did know about Burt Munro’s racing, though not about his organic fertilizer. :)

  8. Savannah Chase

    So many amazing and talented folks..

  9. Lindsay

    What about country singer Keith Urban. He was born in NZ but raised in Australia

    • Shelley Munro

      That’s true. Russel Crowe was also born in NZ.

  10. Gerri Bowen

    I’ve heard of 2,3,7,9,11. Very interesting post, Shelley.

  11. Mary Kirkland

    I knew Peter Jackson but that’s the only one.

  12. CountryDew

    I knew of Hillary and Peter Jackson. I was waiting to see Lucy Lawless on there, but no Xena.

    I am interested in learning more about #12.

  13. Tania.F.Walsh

    I’ll admit, I haven’t heard of a few of them… So many accomplishments… nice

  14. Angela Brown

    I’d heard of Hillary. Always wondered what inspired a person to claim to the highest cold place on earth.

    Peter Jackson blasted on the scene for me with LOTR.

  15. Shelley Munro

    Oh, good. Most of you have heard of at least one New Zealander :)

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