NZer of the Year semifinalists named

Swee T Tan, plastic surgeon and researcher.
Swee T Tan, plastic surgeon and researcher.
Bill Buckley, of technology company Buckley Systems Ltd.
Bill Buckley, of technology company Buckley Systems Ltd.
Professor Dame Anne Salmond, renowned historian, writer and academic.
Professor Dame Anne Salmond, renowned historian, writer and academic.

A Wellington doctor pioneering ground breaking medical procedures, a former homeless man helping disadvantaged Christchurch teens, a Hamilton volunteer and a tiny Southland community turning their town around are part of a prestigious national awards lineup.

In all, 58 semifinalists have been announced for the 2013 New Zealander of the Year Awards.

» Click here for a full list of semifinalists

It is a shortlist winnowed from a record number of  700 nominations received for the fourth year of the Awards programme.

The number of nominees and the calibre of the semifinalists shows the country is filled with inspirational people say the award judges.

''All have been judged to be extraordinary individuals and community groups making a positive difference to New Zealand and often also to the world at large,'' said the judges.

Judges include former Prime Minister Jim Bolger, former Olympian Beatrice Faumuina, business leaders Sir Roderick Deane, Jenny Morel, Joanne McRae and Michelle Hippolite, and ambassadors for charities Dame Rosie Horton, Lianne Clarke and Bob Kerridge.

The list of semifinalists will be further cut down next month to three finalists in each of the five award categories.

The overall winners will be announced at a gala event in February.

The prestigious Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year is awarded to someone who has made a major contribution to the nation, outstanding service to the country and inspiration through achievement. Semi-finalists include: Professor Charles Daugherty, Kim Workman, Professor Swee T Tan, Bill Buckley, Hinewehi Mohi, Dame Anne Salmond, David Irving and Jeanette Richardson.

The Countdown Senior New Zealander of the Year celebrates ongoing achievement for those aged 60 and over who have made a major difference to New Zealand. Semi-finalists include: Kieth Beck, Julie and Roy Bartlett, Ian Grant, Marcia Read, Gary Daverne, Thilliar Varnakulasingham, Sister Felix Breen and Garth McVicar.

Coca-Cola Amatil Young New Zealander of the Year marks 15 to 30 year olds making a positive impact on the nation. Semi-finalists include Assil Russell, Damyon New, Sophie Pascoe, Victoria Taylor, Lydia Ko, Sam Judd, Jordon Taylor, Shruthi Vigayakumar, William Zhang and Sam Shore.

Mitre 10 Community of the Year acknowledges groups working together up and down the country to build stronger communities. Semi-finalists include UN Youth New Zealand, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ, The Hawea Community Association, the Mataura Community, the Hokitika Community and the Kaikoura Seafest, Uawa - Tolaga Bay, the Hawkes Leaders Group, Eketahuna Our Town and the Patea Youth Trust.

Kiwibank Local Heroes Award recognises everyday people doing extraordinary things in their local communities. The semi-finalists include Jade Temepara of Ashburton, Paul Hughes of Halcombe, Des Smith of Wellington, Kaila Colblin of Christchurch , Scott Gilmour of Auckland, Paddy Henderson of Rangiora and Jim Morunga of Napier, Jim Dowman of Tauranga, Douglas Cooper of Gisborne and Vivien Leonard of Paeroa.

Already 180 Local Heroes medals were awarded to an earlier shortlist of nominees earlier this month.