Meet 5 Iconic New Zealanders: Legacies You Should Know

New Zealand’s contribution to the world has been massive. From sports to politics, science to film-making, they have given the world some of the greatest achievements they could impart with. With a population of just merely four million in 2018, they have some insurmountable achievements.

Below is the list of the 5 Great New Zealanders you must know as they shook the world with their achievements.

5 Great New Zealanders you must know

1. Ernest Rutherford

Ernest Rutherford

In the world of science, the world saw the gold foil experiment coming from a kiwi – Ernest Rutherford. You have to be one high-end genius to be buried alongside Sir Isaac Newton and Lord Kelvin in the Westminster Abbey. Rutherford had a mind worth of diamonds and after his work on nuclear physics came to be known as the father of nuclear physics.

He was the one to split the atom and is considered to be one of the greatest achievements for humanity and by far his greatest achievement. He was a nominee for the Nobel Prize for chemistry, was President of the Royal Society and the British Association for the Advancement of Science, was conferred to the Order of Merit, and finally became Lord Rutherford. Not bad going.

Rutherford discovered that thorium gave off an emanation that was radioactive. Rutherford came up with the concept of radioactive half-life – he found that a sample of a radioactive material of any size invariably took the same amount of time for half the sample to decay. The half-life is unique for each radio element and thus serves as an identifying tag.

2. Helen Clark

Helen Clark

It puts a smile on the Kiwis’ faces when they hear about achievements coming from a woman of their soil. Helen Clark is a prodigal woman who became the first female prime minister of New Zealand and also becoming the deputy prime minister and a member of the Privy Council. She is considered to date the country’s best prime minister. She must’ve upheld the righteousness through which she became the prime minister for three consecutive terms.

Helen Clark refocused and reformed UNDP into a more transparent, efficient, and accountable organization which could better respond to the new environment while also ensuring that it kept its long term focus on human and sustainable development.

Helen Clark is a champion of inclusive and sustainable development. She has ensured that UNDP’s work on poverty eradication is closely linked with its governance and environmental portfolios. She has advocated for the full inclusion and empowerment of women in development – and within UNDP itself where during her tenure the ratio of women to men reached fifty percent.

3. Hone Heke

Hone Heke
Hone Heke

He was also one of New Zealand’s greatest personalities who became a prominent voice for the northern Maori chief to sign the Treaty of Waitangi. After the signing of the Treaty, he became determined and joined the opposition as to the colonial Brits. He is an inspiration to all those diplomatic minds when he was the epitome of diplomacy as a political leader while dealing with a foreign power.

Heke was probably born around 1808. He came under the influence of missionaries as a teenage student at the Kerikeri Mission School. Hone Keke was baptized a Christian in 1835 and took on the name Hone (John). He has strong friendships with the missionaries, especially Henry Williams, for much of his adult life.

4. Sir Edmund Hillary

Sir Edmund Hillary
Sir Edmund Hillary

Everyone knows about the legend of Sir Edmund Hillary as the first man who climbed Mt. Everest with his companion Tenzing Norgay to stand above the rest on the highest peak of the world. You knew this man was coming up next to the list because of the legacy he created while climbing Mt. Everest. After getting back he spoke to his friend in the most Kiwi way possible “Well, George; we knocked the bastard off” due to this achievement he was knighted in 1953; and also received the Order of the Garter in 1995.

This man, however, was determined to conquer more and didn’t stop there. He continued his journey and accomplished many other inhuman feats. He was righteous as well as altruistic when it came to helping people; and was made an honorary citizen of Nepal when he spent a huge part of his life helping build schools, hospitals, and airfields for them.

During the 1953 expedition, Hillary and Tenzing Norgay formed a tight team: As other mountaineers fell back, these two forged on. They reached the summit on 29 May, gaining worldwide fame.

From then on, Hillary made his living from public speaking, writing and undertaking further expeditions, inspiring global interest in mountaineering.

In the summer of 1956–57 Hillary led the Antarctic expedition to establish Scott Base.

5. Katherine Mansfield

Katherine Mansfield

“The most famous author of New Zealand, Katherine Mansfield, is also one of the greatest personalities on this list. She quoted “Risk anything! Care no more for the opinion of others. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.” Her death was an imminent one at the age of 34, nevertheless, she changed the way the world would perceive art in short stories.

Mansfield was a New Zealand writer – she could not have written as she did had she not gone to live in England and France, but she could not have done her best work if she had not had firm roots in her native land. She used her memories in her writing from the beginning, people, the places, even the colloquial speech of the country form the fabric of much of her best work.

Mansfield’s stories were the first of significance in English to be written without a conventional plot. Supplanting the strictly structured plots of her predecessors in the genre (Edgar Allan Poe, Rudyard Kipling, H. G. Wells), Mansfield concentrated on one moment, a crisis or a turning point, rather than on a sequence of events. The plot is secondary to mood and characters. The stories are innovative in many other ways. They feature simple things – a doll’s house or a charwoman. Her imagery, frequently from nature, flowers, wind and colours, set the scene with which readers can identify easily.

Mamta Sharma

Mamta is a spirited writer hailing from Wellington, bringing a youthful zest to the world of digital content. Merging her love for narrative with an eye for detail, Ella crafts stories that resonate and engage the modern reader.