Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Newshub national correspondent Patrick Gower and Wellington's beloved feline Mittens are in the running to take out the next Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Award.
With 12 days until nominations close, the Awards Office has announced the notable contenders so far, which include Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and leading microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles.
The "team of five million" has also received a number of nominations, a nod to New Zealand's united front in the ongoing battle against COVID-19.
There have been a "significant number of nominations" for Director-General of Health Dr Bloomfield, a leading official in New Zealand's COVID-19 response. Dr Bloomfield has risen to public prominence this year as the face of the regular 1pm briefings, and has been widely praised for his professionalism and cool, calm and collected demeanour.
The public servant also appears to have struck a chord with Kiwis, his likeness emblazed on numerous memes, portraits, hand towels and an eco-friendly Te Papa artwork. In April, Dr Bloomfield's fans even petitioned for the health official to be awarded New Zealander of the Year for his role in carrying the country through the crisis.
Nominated New Zealanders for 2021 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year include:
- Patrick Gower - journalist and National Correspondent for Newshub
- Kelly Coe - clothing designer for Augustine
- Dane Rumble - musician
- Clint Heine - Kiwis in London founder
- Bryce Casey - mental health advocate and radio host
- Siouxsie Wiles - microbiologist
- Simon Barnett - radio host
- Mittens - Wellington celebrity cat.
There have also been a number of nominations for national and local Government politicians. These nominees may only be considered on the basis of work completed outside of their role or duties as a public servant, the Awards Office confirmed.
Nominated politicians include:
- David Seymour - Leader of ACT New Zealand
- Chlöe Swarbrick - Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand MP
- Jacinda Ardern - Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Nominations are also being sought for exceptional individuals or community organisations in the following categories:
- Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero of the Year - Te Pou Toko o te Tau
- Mitre 10 New Zealand Community of the Year - Ngā Pou Whirinaki o te Tau
- Ryman Healthcare Senior New Zealander of the Year - Te Mātāpuputu o te Tau
- Trade Me New Zealand Innovator of the Year - Te Pou Whakairo o te Tau
- University of Canterbury Young New Zealander of the Year - Te Mātātahi o te Tau.
"In this extraordinary year, we know that everyone has a hero," Miriama Kamo, patron of Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards, said on Wednesday.
"You've seen them in action, you've heard them, you may live with them - these incredible New Zealanders deserve recognition for stepping up, this year and every year."
Nominations can be made by any member of the public until midnight, August 30, 2020 by completing the online nomination form at nzawards.org.nz.
Once closed, all nominations will be evaluated by at least two rounds of independent and diverse judging panels, comprising representatives of awards' patrons, presenters, sponsors, community leaders and independent experts. Semi-finalists will be announced in December.
The 2021 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year and supporting category winners will be announced at the New Zealander of the Year Awards Gala Dinner in Auckland on March 18, 2021.
Actress Jennifer Ward-Lealand Te Atamira took out the 2020 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Award in February, while former comedian, TV personality and mental health advocate Mike King received the honour in 2019.