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Our Famous Faces


Kia ora

The Gisborne Region with its fertile land, natural beauty and many talented people has much to be proud of.

The Pride in Gisborne Trust invites you to join this celebration of people who are some of our 'Famous Faces'. We hope this will lay the foundation for similar exhibitions in the future, as it is impossible to represent all those who deserve recognition in just one event.

The Pride in Gisborne Trust was established in 1997 by a group of positive people who wanted to formally recognize the benefits of this region.

The objectives of the Trust are:

To foster pride in our region.
To enhance the image of our district to residents and visitors.
To positively promote the unique qualities and achievements of the people of Gisborne and the East Coast region.
The Trust believes that a positive attitude can contribute enormously to the growth and development of the region.

In today's world it is easy to lose sight of the positive aspects of life and the reasons why living here is such a privilege. We hope that the profiles of the 'Famous Faces' inspire you, your family and friends, to achieve personal success as well as communicate the benefits of living in the Gisborne-East Coast Region.

Kay Crosby, Dudley Meadows, Pam Ball, Norman Maclean, Kaarin Gaukrodger & David Scott.

- Trustees of the Pride in Gisborne Trust, April 2002



Click on the links to read more about SurfCity Gisborne's Famous Faces...

Murray Ball.
Well-known for the cartoon strip Footrot Flats featuring Wal and The Dog, Murray’s cartoon which had huge success in New Zealand, Australia and Scandinavia also resulted in the full-length animated movie being made in 1985. Murray who lives in Gisborne now writes and illustrates satirical books.

Peter Bennett.
Peter Bennett first joined the New Zealand Department of External Affairs in 1966. Since then his titles have included New Zealand Embassy in Rome’s Second Secretary and Minister of the New Zealand Mission to the European Commission, Belgium amongst others. Peter is presently the New Zealand Ambassador to Italy and is deeply involved with the country’s agricultural trade.

Grant Bramwell.
Having swam competitively from an early age, Grant took an interest in kayaking. Winning gold at the 1984 Olympic Games was a memorable sporting occasion for Grant who is still a well known New Zealand figure in the sport, and now runs Bramwell’s Pharmacy in Gisborne.

Peter Briant.
Jet boat sprinting is what Peter Briant loves to do and intends to do as long as he has a burning desire to compete. Having won every major title in the sport, Peter was also proud to win the 2001 Air New Zealand Eastland Sportsmans of the Year. Peter continues to farm in Gisborne, allowing him time to prepare his boat and travel.

Sir James Carroll.
Sir James is celebrated for aiming to empower Maori with modern ecenomic life and to secure their equality with Pakeha. For many years Sir James was a prominent figure in Parliament making appearances on the New Zealand Executive Council, as Acting Prime Minister and on the Legislative Council among many others.

William Douglas Cook.
William Douglas Cook established Eastwoodhill, planting Northern Hemisphere tree species in hope of developing an arboretum for future generations. He was a leading figure of the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture and the Royal Horticultural Society. Following his death Eastwoodhill was named the most comprehensive arboretum in New Zealand.

Sandra Edge.
Called by many sports journalists and coaches the world’s best centre-court player, Sandra has represented New Zealand as well as the provinces including Poverty Bay. She still continues her invlovement with netball by coaching local players in Gisborne where she and her family now live.

Leigh Gibbs.
Netball runs through Leigh Gibbs veins. Being incredibly passionate about the sport has led her to be involved with coaching, playing, umpiring and administrating netball at club, regional and national levels. Tody Leigh is Talent Development Co-Ordinator for Netball New Zealand and the Silver Ferns Technical Advisor.

Tom Heeney.
With boxing in his blood, Tom Heeney became a professional boxer at just 22 years old. Known as ‘The Hard Rock From Down Under’, he went on to fight in Australia, Britain, South Africa and America. He remains the only New Zealand-born challenger to fight for the World Heavyweight Championship.

Joe Hogan.
Joe Hogan who began playing croquet in 1973, was World No 1 for four consectutive years, winning the Championship from 1986 to 1990. He has also won many titles nationally and internationally and still continues to play, coach and watch croquet while residing in Gisborne.

Cory Hutchings.
Cory was born into a family passionate about surf-lifesaving and he has been involved with the sport since he was five years old. Having competed nationally and internationally, he has had major wins including the World Ironman Championship twice. He is currently involved with Surf Life Saving New Zealand and the Hillary Commission, coaching and delivering workshops throughout New Zealand.

Witi Ihimaera.
From the start, Witi Ihimaera has seen writing as a valuable opportunity to express in print his experience of being Maori. He has produced many highly acclaimed books and film scripts since he began writing seriously in 1969. Today he continues to write and is a Professor of English at Auckland University.

David James.
Internationally renowned concert pianist David James has received world- wide recognition for his talented musical ability. His wife and children are all talented pianists and the family has performed all over New Zealand, including Gisborne. Living in New York, David now tutors at the Manhatten School of Music.

Sir Robert Kerridge.
Sir Robert Kerridge first purchased The Regent cinema in Gisborne in 1926. By the 1940s Kerridge and his associates owned or controlled 133 cinemas. He was interested in, and promoted New Zealand’s tourism industry and was a generous benefactor to many causes. Admitted to the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic and Knighted in 1962, Sir Robert became one of New Zealand’s wealthiest entrepreneurs.

Ian Kirkpatrick.
Ian Kirkpatrick’s All Black career began in 1967 and he quickly became known for his great pace and strength. An All Black for ten years and Captain from 1972-74, he played 113 matches including 39 tests. He led by example and was regarded as a fine captain as his playing went from strength to strength. Ian was awarded an MBE in 1980 and now continues to farm in Gisborne with his family.

George Nepia.
George Nepia started playing rugby while at the Maori Agricultural College near Hastings. Selected for the 1924-25 All Blacks overseas tour, the team dubbed The Invincibles won all 32 games. George also played for the New Zealand Moari team and in 1986 the South African Rugby Board elected him life vice president. George has also been the subject of New Zealand television’s This Is Your Life.

Te Moananui Ngarimu.
Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu was amongst the first to join the 28th New Zealand Maori Battalion. A second lieutenant and platoon leader in C Company, he displayed courage and leadership, even while wounded. Ngarimu was killed on the 27th March 1943, but was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery, determination and outstanding leadership. The only Victoria Cross ever awarded to a Maori.

Sir Apirana Ngata.
Winning the Eastern Maori Parliamentary seat in 1905, Sir Apirana Ngata entered Parliament to improve conditions and seek reform for the Maori people. Ngata was knighted in 1927, served as Native Minister and went on to organise the World War II Maori Battalion. He continued to support many other causes around the country, being recognised with an Honorary LittD.

Wiremu Pere.
Elected to Parliament for the Eastern Maori Parliamentary seat in 1884, Wiremu Pere was always passionate about Maori land matters and worked tirelessly for them. His allegiance to the Anglican Church was strong and he strongly supported the 1886 Land Administration Act, banning the individual dealing by Maori and direct private purchases by settlers.

Maz Quinn.
Maz Quinn still lists Wainui Beach as one of his favourite surf beaks, the place where his passion for surfing began. After touring the world for six years on the World Qualifying Series, Maz had gained enough points to enter the elite World Championship Tour. He has now joined the world’s top 44 surfers – the first Kiwi surfer to do so, and is achieving recognition for his lifelong passion.

Dame Anne Salmond.
Anne Salmond first embarked on Anthropology and Maori Studies when she was just 19 years old. Since then her interest and services to literature and the Maori people have been commended, receiving a CBE, made a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and become a Dame Commander of the British Empire. Anne still continues to write and is a distinguished Professor in Social Anthropology and Maori Studies at Auckland University.

Margaret Sievwright.
In 1893 Margaret Sievwright and Kate Sheppard led the Electoral Bill petition and New Zealand became the first country in the world to grant women the right to vote. This was a grand achievement for the idealist aiming at total equality for all women. Throughout her life she maintained strong connections with feminist movements overseas, convened the Gisborne Women’s Political Association and worked for disarmament during the South African War.

Pineamine Taiapa.
Pineamine Taiapa began the art of carving at the School of Maori Arts in Rotorua and became increasingly interested with the carving methods associated with the adze. Pine strongly encouraged the communities to learn the skills of their ancestors and his influence can be seen in over 100 houses throughout New Zealand. Pine also taught carving and tukutuku, wrote articles on his work and was an excellent orator.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.
Unknown in the world of opera until 1971, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa became an overnight success, rapidly becoming an important figure in the leading opera houses of the world and reaching incredible successes over the years. Created a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1982, Dame Kiri now lives in London.

Alan Thompson.
Alan Thompson became interested in kayaking while surf lifesaving in Gisborne. Having had many successes in World Kayaking Championships led Alan to be selected for the Olympic Games, where in 1984 he won two gold medals. Still interested in paddling, Alan coaches Gisborne youngsters and kayaks recreationally when time allows.

Esme Tombleson.
Esme Tombleson’s political career began in Gisborne when she became our first Women Member of Parliament. The region boomed as she worked tirelessly for the district’s rural and fishing industries. Esme was a co-founder of the national Multiple Sclerosis Society, and has won many national and international awards for her efforts towards Gisborne and the region.

John Walsh.
John Walsh developed an interest in art while still at school. His work has been described as evolving in style and medium, lyrical and grotesque, and constantly investigating the area where our (Maori) cultural identity is forged. With sell-out exhibitions and commissions from national art gallery’s, John has solidified his status as one of New Zealand’s leading artists.

Richard White.
Richard ‘Tiny’ White was Poverty Bay’s first ever All Black, playing for the national team from 1949 to 1956. Tiny White’s skills included his exceptional springing jump, speed, stamina and strength. Following the All Blacks Richard went on to become Mayor of Gisborne for two terms and actively involved in civic affairs in the community, where he now lives.

Bishop Williams L Williams.
After studying theology in England, Bishop Williams L Williams returned to Gisborne where he was involved with training Maori clerks. Williams continued to work for improved Maori education throughout his life and founded Te Rau College for Maori theological students. At the time of his death Williams was probably regarded as the most eminent Maori scholar of his generation.

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