Before this year, these people were flying under the radar – but thanks to various scandals and slip ups, they have held headlines and captured the nation’s attention. Here's Stuff's top 10 people we didn’t know existed before 2012:
1. Kim Dotcom
Spies knew about him before the rest of the country did, but internet tycoon Kim Dotcom took a front-and-centre position in the news for months as the GCSB scandal unfolded. He's the Christmas news cracker that keeps on giving.
The Belarusian shot-putter fell hard from her position at the top of the medal podium, and right into the media spotlight as she was stripped of her gold medal for cheating. It was the doping scandal that momentarily swiped the golden glory from Valerie Adams.
The Korean pop song ‘Gangnam Style’ went viral after being released on YouTube in July. It spawned hundreds of loving spoofs and had its own merchandise line.
It is the all-time most watched YouTube video with over one billion views.
Mistress and biographer to CIA director General David Petraeus, Paula Broadwell went from a low-lying yet ambitious player in the foreign policy world to a household name.
The 40-year-old mother of two turned an unfinished dissertation into a best-selling biography of the general, and had an affair with him in 2011.
She then shocked Petraeus by sending threatening emails to a friend of his she saw as a romantic rival.
5. E.L James
Making “Mummy Porn” mainstream, this British author is the woman behind the Fifty Shades of Grey series.
Out-selling paperback sales of the Harry Potter series, over 60 million copies flew off the shelves to make it the fastest-selling paperback of all time.
Marlborough teen Clara van Wel was crowned the country’s first New Zealand’s Got Talent winner.
The 15-year-old walked away from the competition with a cash prize of $100,000 as well as a recording contract and a new car.
Victory in London saw Lisa Carrington become a household name this year.
Bringing home Olympic gold for the K1 200m, the 23-year-old from Whakatane said she had been humbled by the goodwill of proud New Zealanders.
"It's been very different... you guys know who I am now, where you wouldn't have before. I'm naturally a bit reserved, but it's been nice having people coming up to congratulate you and say ‘we watched your race and we were there with you'."
8. John Mcafee
John Mcafee, the founder of software company Mcafee, is on the run.
Police from his adopted tax haven home, Belize, identified him as a ‘person of interest’ in a murder case, because the victim had earlier complained about his behaviour.
Mcafee fled the nation by staging an elaborate distraction in neighbouring Mexico.
Bronwyn Pullar, the woman at the centre of this year’s ACC saga and the resignation of Nick Smith, was another unknown to the general public before 2012.
Before that, she was behind-the-scenes of the National Party as a media adviser, as well as the campaign manager for Pansy Wong.
10. Honey Boo Boo
Honey Boo Boo, a six-year-old champion beauty Queen, has gone viral online for her charismatic ‘white trash’ antics.
The Georgia, Atlanta, born star has her own reality TV show called ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’, where she can be seen guzzling her ‘Go-Go Juice’.