Famous New Zealanders

5 Facts About Famous New Zealanders

Jean Batten 1909 - 1982

  • Named Jane Gardner Batten
  • A world famous aviatrix
  • Flew solo from England to India in 1933 and was the first woman to fly both ways from England to Australia and back to England, 1935
  • Born in Rotorua
  • She flew with the famous Australian pioneer aviator, Charles Kingsford Smith

Dame Whina Cooper 1895-1994

  • Was a well-respected leader of the Māori people, known as Whaea o te Moru (Mother of the Nation)
  • Born in Hokianga
  • Became an important leader in many Northland organisations.
  • Was the founding president of the Māori Women's Welfare League in 1951
  • 1975 led the Māori land march from Northland to Parliament in Wellington

Sir Edmund Hillary 1919-

  • Edmund Percival Hillary
  • First conqueror of Everest, the worlds highest mountain in May 29, 1953
  • Born in Auckland
  • Was a beekeeper and amateur mountaineer before conquering Everest
  • Was also in the NZ group that became the first vehicle party on land to reach the South Pole, 1958
  • more

Katherine Mansfield 1888-1923

  • One of the best known internationally of New Zealand writers, with a reputation for her short stories including Prelude, At the Bay, and The Doll's House
  • Born in Wellington, daughter of Harold Beauchamp
  • Went to England for the final years of her education, returned to New Zealand briefly, then went back to Europe
  • Married twice, the second time to the literary editor John Middleton Murray
  • Recognised for her stories Died in France aged 34 from tuberculosis

Richard John Seddon 1845-1906

  • Was New Zealand's longest serving Prime Minister, from 1 May 1893 to 10 June 1906
  • Born in Lancashire, England, and emigrated to first Australia, then New Zealand
  • Became first mayor of Kumara, on the West Coast
  • Was MP for Hokitika, then Kumara, then Westland
  • Headed the Liberal government which introduced a number of progressive laws, including the Old Age Pensions Act

Charles Upham 1908-1994

  • Charles Hazlitt Upham
  • Born in Christchurch
  • Awarded the Victoria Cross and Bar for outstanding gallantry and leadership in Crete, May 1941, and Egypt, July 1942
  • Wounded and captured by the Germans during the campaign in Egypt
  • Was imprisoned in Colditz Castle after repeated attempts to escape


  • Batemans New Zealand Encyclopedia
  • Boon, Kevin Jean Batten