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World Famous New Zealanders

Edmund Hillary - Mountain climber. First man to conquer Mt Everest with Nepalese Sherpa Tensing Norgay.

Ernest Rutherford - Physicist. Famous for splitting the atom and pioneering nuclear science, ironically New Zealand is a nuclear free zone.

Richard Pearse - First Man to 'Fly' a Mechanically Powered Aeroplane. His achievements were remarkable in that, unlike the Wright Brothers who employed skilled engineers and who later enjoyed the luxury of American Government sponsorship, Pearse designed, financed, and built everything himself. Dating suggest a first flight on 31st March, 1902. Other evidence also points to him flying in the winter of 1903 - specifically on the 10'th of July, 1903, just a few months before the Wrights' first flight. Apparently the plane 'landed' on top of one of the many 12ft. high, mainly uncut, box-thorn or gorse hedges surrounding the paddocks in the neighbourhood. He then left it there because of a heavy fall of snow. Meteorological records for that time show that snow fell on the 11'th of July 1903, but that there was no snow during any of the years immediately before or after that date.

John Britten - Motorbike designer extraordinaire. He built a motor bike in his backyard shed from scratch. Britten not only developed an entirely new fabrication system using space age kevlar and carbon fibre, but designed the complete engine, making the patterns for casting himself. The result was the fastest motorbike in the world. In the Daytona Battle of the Twins, the Britten team completely blitzed the opposition, including the cream of Italian and Japanese factory machines.

Alexander Aitken - The Human Computer. He was one of the world's most brilliant mathematical minds, able to multiply two 9-digit numbers together in his head and recite the answer in 30 seconds, or render awkward fractions into decimals to 26 places in under five seconds. His extraordinary abilities were studied by psychologists in Britain during the 1920s.

Harold Williams - Voice of the world. He is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's greatest linguist, said to have spoken over 58 languages fluently. He was foreign editor of The Times, "the most brilliant foreign correspondent" his generation had known. Friend of statesmen and companion of writers HG Wells and Hugh Walpole.

Robert Burchfield - Dictionary Don. Hailed by the Chicago Tribune as "the greatest living lexicographer", Dr Robert Burchfield is regarded as the pre-eminent lexicographer and linguistic scholar of our age. As editor of the Oxford English Dictionary and responsible for its revision, Burchfield has played a crucial role in the study of the sources and development of the English language.

Nancy Wake - The White Mouse. She was the Allies' most decorated servicewoman of WWII, and the Gestapo's most wanted person. They code-named her 'The White Mouse'. She led an army of 7,000 Maquis troops in guerrilla warfare to sabotage the Nazis. Nancy Wake was born in Wellington in 1912.

Keith Park - Saviour of Britain. "If any one man won the Battle of Britain, he did. I do not believe it is realised how much that one man, with his leadership, his calm judgement and his skill, did to save, not only this country, but the world." Lord Tedder - Chief of the Royal Air Force, February 1947.

Katherine Mansfield - Novelist. Famous for writing books in France. She revolutionised the 20th Century English short story.

Kate Sheppard - Suffragist. The leader and main figurehead of the suffragist movement in New Zealand, the first country in the world to grant universal adult suffrage to men and women equally. Kate was a source of inspiration to suffragists, both in New Zealand and throughout the world.

Russell Crowe - Actor. Movies include The Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind. Now lives in Australia.

Sam Neil - Actor. Movies include The Dish, Jurassic Park.

Peter Jackson - Film director. Films include King Kong and the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy. The Return of the King" set an Oscar record by winning all 11 awards for which it had been nominated, including best picture of the year.

Feature films during past decade include:
Dororo (2007), Director Akihiko Shiota
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (2005), Director Andrew Adamson
Meet Me In Miami (2005), Director Eric Hannah
Perfect Strangers (2003), Director Gaylene Preston
Oldboy (2003), Director Chan-wook Park
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2000-1), Director Peter Jackson
Magik and Rose (2001), Director Vanessa Alexander
Snakeskin (2001), Director Gillian Ashhurst
Say This Is Love (2000), Director Rakesh Roshan
Vertical Limit (1999), Director Martin Campbell
The Frighteners (1996), Director Peter Jackson
Heavenly Creatures (1994), Director Peter Jackson.

Tim and Neil Finn - Musicians. Famous for the bands, 'Split Enz' and 'Crowded House'.

Kiri Te Kanawa - Opera singer. Highlights of her career include singing at Prince Charles and Diana's royal wedding.

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