Famous New Zealanders

Kiri Te Kanawa

  • Born 6 March 1944 in Gisborne.
  • Studied under Sister Mary Leo 1959-65 at St Mary's College in Auckland.
  • Was second to Malvina Major in the Mobil Song Quest in 1963, won it in 1965.
  • Won the Melbourne Sun Aria in 1965, and was awarded an arts council bursary to study at the London Opera Centre. Has been based overseas since.
  • Has sung at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Covent Garden, and the Royal Opera House in London, and La Scala in Milan, Italy.
  • In 1981 sang at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in St Paul's Cathedral.
  • Became Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in 1982, and has returned to New Zealand to sing several times, including the New Year's millennium concert at Gisborne in January 2000.
  • In 1994 celebrated her 50th birthday, culminating in a spectacular Birthday Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
  • November 1999 released a new album Māori Songs.
  • Sang in her last opera Vanessa in 2002, but plans to continue with recital and concert work and establishing the Dame Kiri Foundation, to help young music students.