Metro NZ

Aucklander OF THE year!

We’ve chosen 100 Aucklanders leading the way in 220- a tall order in a city of nearly 1.7 million people. You may not like or agree with all our picks -it would be stange if you did -but whether they’re making waves or ruling them, designing clothes or tailoring opinons, killing it on the world stage or battling for justice right here at home, we think you’ll agree each is a force to e reckoned with.


The Jocks!

He’s an embodiment of many of the things we want Auckland to be in 2020 and beyond. He’s smart, he’s sharp, he’s funny. He’s strong, he’s flexible, he’s resilient. He’s literally a world-beater. Undefeated. For his size, he’s the best on the planet at what he does. He’s New Zealand’s Sportsman of the Year, and his “If I win, you win” speech at the Halberg Awards is going down as one of the most memorable New Zealand sports quotes of all time. While we can understand the squeamishness some might feel in aligning our city, which we hope to be peaceful and nonviolent, with someone who (consensually) enacts violence for a living, watching Israel fight is to watch a physical genius, a dancer and a monk and a warrior all in one. And he’s a star. There’s no one in Auckland in 2020 with more charisma, more momentum, more raw power. If he’s in the room or on the screen, you’re not looking anywhere else. He was born in Nigeria to an accountant and a nurse, who moved the family to Rotorua when he was 10. At 21, he moved to Auckland to train at City Kickboxing in Mt Eden. At 30, he became the UFC middleweight world champion and the only person in Auckland to pull off a bright orange McLaren. He hasn’t even played a game for the Blues yet, but every story around the team seems to involve speculation on whether, when he finally does, the star All Black can turn its fortunes around. The mastermind behind Adesanya’s rise, as well as the proprietor of what’s right now the most successful MMA gym in the world (see page 44). There is no other sports administrator, definitely not in New Zealand but possibly anywhere, with a more glowing reputation in the media than the tournament director of the annual ASB Classic. And he’s put a bonkers proposal forward to the powers that be for next year. While there are constant rumblings about the war for sports screening rights, Sky TV still very much has the upper hand, with rugby remaining firmly in its possession (it was a masterstroke giving away a chunk of the company to NZ Rugby to lock them in). CEO Stewart has doubled down on sport since he arrived, backed women’s sport, got rid of the protectionist mindset and tried to give consumers what they want. Will that be enough? The old man of the sea is very much that at age 62, but he still holds the management of Team New Zealand with an iron grip and will be prominent in the buildup to the America’s Cup next year, which will see Auckland waters turned into ground zero for the most cashed up yachtsmen in the world. The Olympic bronze medal pole vaulter has been injured for the better part of a year and a half, but is still on track to make a comeback in time for the Tokyo Olympics. McCartney’s popularity and marketability will mean that her face is going to be seen on plenty of screens between now and then. The Breakers had a crazy 2019-20 season, but it was far more good news in the run home than bad, and attendance shot up 38% over the course of the season — due in no small part to its chief operating officer. Women’s rugby league is quickly becoming a viable option for female athletes, thanks to the Warriors being part of the fledgling NRL Women’s Premiership (NRLW) competition. The 24-year-old Hale is not only Warriors women’s captain, but also won the 2020 Young New Zealander of the Year for her community work and multi-code sporting achievements. The most high-profile code swapper of all time has gone back to his first love of league, in far-flung Toronto, for what might be his last stint before hanging up the boots. But SBW’s image these days seems to be far more about projecting family values than anything else. His social media is awash with loving moments with his children, meaning that his influence from the other side of the world is still as strong as ever.

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