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The Post 2023 Wellingtonian of the Year Awards


The 35th annual WELLY AWARDS were held at the iconic Embassy Theatre, Wellington City on Wednesday 27th March 2024, with over 400 people in attendance.
The 2023 Wellingtonian of the Year is Ardie Savea, who also won the Sport Category, after an extremely successful year that saw him lead the All Blacks in key Test matches, and being awarded the 2023 World Rugby Player of the Year, New Zealand Rugby Player of the Year and All Black Player of the Year for the 3rd consecutive year” said Welly Awards Director John Dow.
Showing outstanding rugby talent and leadership skills from a young age, Ardie was not only Captain of the Rongotai College First Fifteen but also the Schools Head Boy and Captain of the New Zealand Secondary Schools team.
He has also Captained the Wellington Lions and Hurricanes, has a namesake clothing company, been involved in the creation of a Kids book and is a respected and effective Mental Health advocate.”
“The Sport Category was particularly strong this year with Cricketers Rachin Ravindra the current NZ Men’s Player of the Year, Amelia Kerr the current NZ Women’s Player of the Year and Alex Rufer the captain of the A League Table Topping Phoenix who is in Egypt this week with the All Whites all outstanding Finalists.”  
“The Wellingtonian of the Year Awards were started in 1989 by Ian Wells General Manager of Wellington Newspapers, himself a strong sport administrator and advocate who would have been proud to see the Awards celebrate their 35th birthday, having recognised and acknowledged well over 1,000 Wellington Region people in the past 20 years alone”, said John.

There were 10 Category winners announced at the WELLY AWARDS night:


Ewen has been involved in community theatre for over 40 years - as a director for theatre groups and on several committees including Theatre NZ, NZ Assoc Drama Adjudicators and Theatre Archives NZ.


Tupe Lualua has facilitated Arts education at Toi Whakaari and Victoria University.  She was most recently appointed as a MNZM for services to the Arts.
Colleen McColl has worked as publicist for countless Circa Theatre shows with “care and pizazz, long after most people have retired” and is a Founding Member of KidzStuff Theatre for Children.
Dennis Yoo is Animation Supervisor at Wētā FX, with almost 20 years experience in feature film animation. He has worked on many critically acclaimed titles including Avatar and Planet of the Apes.


Bill is Managing Director at DataTorque, one of NZ’s leading tech businesses. He is the driving force behind the design and delivery of their flagship Revenue Management System. 


Kristy Grant is the CEO of Lane Street Studios, a purpose-built and world-class screen production facility based in Upper Hutt.
Frances Shoemack is Founder and CEO of Abel Fragrances, which produces 100% natural perfume for men and women – a world first – without “compromising on ethics or aesthetics”.
Ziggy Ziya was Co-Owner and now Event Marketing Manager at The San Francisco Bath House. He has managed and contracted over 10,000 shows for a diverse range of global and local acts.


Kristeen has worked to educate, empower and enable women and girls through leadership, advocacy and fundraising; women into sustainable work, combating ovarian cancer; and period products into the City Mission”.


Heniaka August has been involved with the Māori Wardens in the Wellington region and Porirua since 2009. She also provides advice to Police recruits on working with Māori youth.
Paul Gibson is a leading advocate for the rights of disabled people in NZ. He was appointed as the first dedicated Disability Rights Commissioner in the Human Rights Commission.
Ian James was Chair of Upper Hutt Citizens Advice Bureau for 8 years and 4 years as National President. He's regarded as a role model interviewer, providing a unique face-to-face service for prisoners.
Euon Murrell has been an active volunteer, community worker, advocate and fundraiser in the Wellington Region for almost 50 years. He is also a JP and established a nominated witness programme in Porirua.
Rosemary Wilkinson is Chief Executive of Blind Citizens New Zealand and has been an advocate for the rights of blind and vision-impaired people for over 30 years.


Rod has contributed to youth work for over 20 years, chairing several boards and developing numerous projects and programmes. He produced the Code of Ethics of Youth Work in New Zealand.


Pamela Hanna has been involved in NZ’s playcentre movement for 20 years, making a significant contribution to several community initiatives in Lower Hutt. She is author of ‘Thinking Together: Quality Adult-Child Interactions’. 
Ian Hastie, through an education career spanning 40 years, has been a champion for diverse communities and strong advocate for equitable outcomes for students living in low socio-economic areas.
Cherie Maria Chu-Fuluifaga is a distinguished academic who, at VUW, developed the Pacific education leadership cluster that has grown from five students in 2005 to more than 200 students.
Sunita Narayan is President of Community Languages New Zealand, has volunteered with the Wellington Hindi School since 1995. She has led community projects on preservation of heritage languages in Aotearoa. 


Angus and Katie founded Wonky Box, a fruit and vegetable home delivery service out of Wellington, in response to significant food waste due to supermarkets’ cosmetic standards.


Sally Bain has been a longtime environmental volunteer and advocate, she has trained up a rat detection dog that has been instrumental in predator-free Wellingtons work eradicating rats in Miramar.
Pete Gillespie is Co-Founder of Garage Project, a brewery dedicated to minimising their environmental impact by reducing waste, using electricity from renewable suppliers only and offsetting emissions by purchasing carbon credits.
Christopher Maclean is Founder of The Whitcombe Press and an award-winning writer. He is active in conservation and environmental activities, particularly around Kāpiti, funding many restoration projects through his family trust. 


Liz is a long-term advocate for Wellington heritage recognition and storytelling, particularly the Pā sites and awa of Pōneke, and has held numerous major local heritage leadership roles.


Alistair Cattanach is a Fellow of Engineering NZ and Director of Dunning Thornton. He is a leading practitioner with over 25 years experience and a passion for heritage buildings and expressive architectural structures. 
Jane Kelly is Chair and Principal of TEAM Architects New Zealand and led the restoration of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Wellington, which is expected to reopen in 2024.
John Martin is an author, educator, teacher and historian. He has researched and written about New Zealand history since the 1980s and was the parliamentary historian in the early 2000s.  
Jo Newman is a volunteer heritage researcher and advocate, and Convenor of the Mt Victoria Historical Society, which regularly publishes stories and organises events on the history of Mt Victoria and Wellington. 


Ria has contributed to the health sector for more than 20 years, particularly active in hospice care, health governance and Māori community development. Her consultancy focuses on Māori advice in health policies and social services.


Lotta Dann is an addiction recovery advocate who published her best-selling memoir ‘Mrs D is Going Without’ and partnered with NZ Drug Foundation to launch community website Living Sober.
Kolitha De Silva Kolitha De Silva has been a GP for 40 years and for more than 25 years in Naenae. He is also involved in training  Junior Doctors and Nurse Practitioners.
Russell Postlewaight has spent 51 years as a firefighter and fire investigator in NZ and has been an effective community communicator for FENZ, delivering fire safety messaging in lower socio-economic areas.


Ratu is Founder and CEO/CTO of OpenStar Technologies, working towards building a levitated dipole fusion reactor to harness the power of the sun and create vast amounts of emissions-free electricity.


Troy Dougherty is COO at Nuenz. He discovered the process for commercial manufacture of silicon nitride fibres which “developed the process for rapid dispersion of high-performance additives into polymer coatings and composites”.
Joanne Hewitt is a Science Leader at ESR who led research and development into the detection, persistence, viability, survival of enteric viruses, including noroviruses, SARS-CoV-2 in the environment, water and foods.
Emily Parker is Professor of Chemical Biology and a Principal Investigator at Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery, developing drugs and vaccines and tools for early diagnosis and disease prevention.


Ardie recently captained the Hurricanes and became the All Blacks 70th Test captain against Australia in 2021. He capped off a memorable 2023 season as World Rugby Player of the Year.


Amelia Kerr is a mental health advocate and cricketer for Wellington Blaze and the White Ferns – the youngest ever. She scored a world record unbeaten 232 in an ODI against Ireland.
Jason Pine is a Weekend Sport Host at Newstalk ZB and writes regularly on sport as well as On Air Match Commentary. He has over 30 years of experience in the media industry.
Rachin Ravindra is a cricketer for the Black Caps and Chennai Super Kings. He holds the record for most runs (578) by a batter playing his first World Cup.
Alex Rufer is a footballer for the Wellington Phoenix and All Whites. He is the longest-serving player in the Phoenix squad and the first homegrown talent to be appointed club captain.


Elisa is Founder of Enivo Pots, biodegradable pot plants made of underutilized NZ Primary Industry residue and waste, to provide a solution to the millions of plastic plant pots used each year in Aotearoa.


Hadi Daoud & Owyn Aitken are Founders of Remojo Tech, which collects donated devices from corporate enterprises and community to then refurbish and give to students in need attending school.
Te Matahiapo is a rangatahi Māori activist and kaupapa enthusiast who is dedicated to the revival of te reo Māori, tino rangatiratanga and mātauranga relating to te ao Māori.
Alex Paulsen is the first choice Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper in the A-League. He was promoted to the first team on a professional contract after being named MVP in the 2020-21 National League.
Tai Renner, former Wellington College head prefect, has been accepted into Columbia  University in New York where he will study Political Science and Economics, and row in the university’s top rowing team.



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