A Canterbury Paralympian who dominated the pool, and two communities punching above their weight, are part of a prestigious national awards lineup.
Sophie Pascoe, who won three golds and three silver medals at the London 2012 event, is one of 58 semifinalists announced for the 2013 New Zealander of the Year Awards.
The Hokitika community and Kaikoura Seafest are also included for their efforts to raise community spirit.
It is a shortlist drawn from a record 700 nominations received for the fourth year of the awards programme.
The large number of nominees and the calibre of the semifinalists shows the country is teeming with inspirational people, the award judges said.
"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," the judges said.
The judges are: former prime minister Jim Bolger, former Olympian Beatrice Faumuina, business leaders Sir Roderick Deane, Jenny Morel, Joanne McRae and Michelle Hippolite, and charities ambassadors 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.
The semifinalists are 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.
The semifinalists are: Keith 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 recognises 15- to 30-year-olds making a positive impact on the nation.
The semifinalists are: 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 throughout the country to build stronger communities.
The semifinalists are: United Nations 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 Hawke's 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 semifinalists are: Jade Temepara of Ashburton, Paul Hughes of Halcombe, Des Smith of Wellington, Kaila Colblin of Christchurch, Scott Gilmour of Auckland, Paddy Henderson of Rangiora, Jim Morunga of Napier, Jim Dowman of Tauranga, Douglas Cooper of Gisborne and Vivien Leonard of Paeroa.
Already, 180 Local Heroes medals have been awarded to an earlier shortlist of nominees this month.
- The Press
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