This makes her one of ten chosen from amongst the nearly 250 around the country who have been recognised as local heroes. In itself this is a great honour. She joins the following in the semi-finals:
Amy Burke (Christchurch); Billie Jordan (Waiheke Island); Donald Rogers (Auckland); Helen Davidson (Roxburgh); Helen Henderson (Lower Hutt); Trevor Clarke (Auckland); Talitha Vandenberg (Paihiatua); Dame June Mariu (Auckland); Peter Willsman (Queenstown); Steven Parkinson-Loane (Christchurch).
The annual New Zealander of the Year awards are in their sixth year. They recognise, encourage and reward New Zealand's most vital asset - its people. It is open to all New Zealanders and celebrates the contributions of Kiwis from all walks of life. More than 230 nominations were received for the 2015 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.
In January, the judging panel - comprising representatives of all the awards patrons, presenters, sponsors, community leaders and independent experts - will announce the final shortlist of three people being considered for the 2015 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.
The winner will be announced at the New Zealander of the Year Gala Awards evening in Auckland on 25 February, 2015.
Billie did not make the final list of ten for the main award. They are:
• Dr Sharad Paul: Surgeon and skin cancer specialist (Auckland)
• Sir John Kirwan: Rugby coach, mental health and depression awareness advocate (Auckland)
• Cassandra Treadwell: Chief executive and founder, So They Can (Lower Hutt)
• Sir Stephen Tindall: Founder, The Tindall Foundation (Auckland)
• Julie Chapman: Chief executive and founder, KidsCan Charitable Trust (Auckland)
• Barbara Ala'alatoa: Principal, Sylvia Park School (Auckland)
• Roana Bennett: Manager, Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Trust (Rotorua)
• Dr Susan Parry: Auckland City Hospital and Ministry of Health (Auckland)
• Cynthia Ward: True Colours Children's Health Trust (Hamilton)
• Judge Peter Boshier: Law Commissioner (Wellington)
Waiheke certainly punches above its weight in this event. In 2011 islander Don Mckenzie was also a finalist in the local hero category. I wrote about Billie’s local hero award in November when I said:
“It is important to recognise the outstanding people in our communities and take pride in their positive contribution otherwise their selfless work often goes unnoticed. That is why a former winner of a Local Hero’s medal and finalist in the senior section of the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year awards in 2011, Don McKenzie CNZM, started a similar event when he was a member of the first Waiheke Local Board. Ten locals were recognised for their selfless contribution to the Waiheke community each year. Sadly this award has been discontinued by the second Waiheke Local Board.”
Congratulations Billie! You are an outstanding New Zealander. Waiheke is proud of what you have achieved for yourself, for our Hip Hop dancers and for our wonderful community.