Equal-pay campaigner Kristine Bartlett has been named Kiwibank 2018 New Zealander of the Year for helping secure a pay rise for 55,000 low-paid, mainly female care and support workers.
Ms Bartlett argued her employer, Terranova Homes, violated the equal pay for equal work legislation by paying her less, due to the fact she was in a female-dominated industry.
- Landmark ruling on equal pay welcomed
- Govt signs off $2 billion pay equity settlement
- $500m pay rise for care workers
- Opinion: Pay equity campaigner Kristine Bartlett on her struggle for victory
- Government announces equal pay deal for mental health workers
The Government signed a $2 billion settlement on the case on April 18, 2017.
On July 1, 2017, care workers like Ms Bartlett on the minimum wage received a pay rise from $15.75 per hour to $23.50 per hour.
That's only the start - within five years, the wages will be $27 per hour - an increase of 71 percent.
Ms Bartlett received the award from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday night and was presented with the Kiwibank kaitaka huaki cloak, Pouhine, by 2014 New Zealander of the Year Dr Lance O'Sullivan.
Other finalists were microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles and mental health advocate Mike King.
Chief judge Cameron Bennett said she deserved the award due to the selflessness and courage she showed through the pay-equity case.
"At enormous personal sacrifice, Kristine Bartlett spearheaded the equal-pay movement for caregivers in the aged-care sector," he said.
"In doing so, she has changed the lives of thousands of New Zealand's lowest paid workers, people providing vital health and well-being services to many vulnerable Kiwis.
"Kristine embodies the values of fairness, decency and equity that New Zealanders have long held dear.
"She didn't seek out admiration or special recognition for what she helped achieve. She saw a need and had the courage of conviction to take action.
"That makes her a thoroughly worthy recipient of this year's supreme award."
The other category award winners were:
University of Auckland Young New Zealander of the Year: David Cameron (Auckland) for improving education with struggling students
Metlifecare Senior New Zealander of the Year: Kim Workman (Lower Hutt) for advocacy within New Zealand's criminal justice system
Mitre 10 Community of the Year: Canterbury Charitable Hospital Trust (Christchurch) for helping patients access medical treatment
Sanitarium Innovator of the Year: Team New Zealand Design Team (Auckland) for innovating to bring home the Auld Mug
Kiwibank Local Hero of the Year: Ricky Houghton (Kaitaia) for leading the He Korowai Trust