Post sponsored by

Source: Massey University

Top left: Chrissie Cowan, Sonia Thursby, Deborah Manning. Bottom left: Christine Liggins, Holly Carrington, Ranjna Patel, Raechal Osborne.

An entrepreneur, a human rights lawyer and the chief executive of an organisation that supports blind and visually impaired Māori are among the seven finalists in the Community Hero category of the 2020 Women of Influence Awards, announced Sunday.

Massey is a proud sponsor of the Community Hero Award, one of 10 categories of the awards that are run by Westpac and Stuff. Other categories include Global, Diversity, Rural, Innovation, Science and Health and more.

Recognising women who are making a difference to the lives of New Zealanders is the focus of the awards and the Community Hero category shines a light on women working in community projects and not-for-profit campaigns in areas such as health, education, domestic violence, finance, literacy, and cultural or ethnic diversity.

The Community Hero is one of the most popular categories according to the organisers, attracting nearly 100 of the 339 nominations received this year. More than 80 finalists have been shortlisted for the awards.

Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says the finalists are helping to make Aotearoa New Zealand a better place for all and are empowering people to overcome challenges, reach their goals and fulfil their potential.

“I would like to acknowledge and congratulate everyone who has been recognised. It’s important that we as a nation take the time to celebrate the work and passion of these individuals who are committed to improving the lives of others.

“These awards provide a platform to showcase female leadership in Aotearoa and allows women of all ages to celebrate the work of others in our small communities through to the global stage. It’s a privilege for Massey University to be involved.”

Westpac NZ Chief Executive David McLean says the strength of this year’s nominations comes as no surprise given the resilience all New Zealanders have shown this year.

“We know that growing strong communities will be essential to our [COVID-19] recovery in the coming months and years.”  

The Women of Influence 2020 winners, including a supreme winner, will be announced at the Awards Dinner at the Aotea Centre in Auckland on November 17. 

Community Hero finalists

Chrissie Cowan, CEO Kāpō Māori Aotearoa. Advocate and leader in the disability sector for Māori.

Christine Liggins, Co-founder of DebtFix offering free debt and financial literacy advice.

Deborah Manning, NZ Food Network and KiwiHarvest.

Holly Carrington, Shine – domestic violence free and policy advisor.

Raechel Osborne, CEO Kapiti Youth Support.

Ranjna Patel, Founder of Gandhi Nivas combating domestic violence in the Indian community.

Sonia Thursby, CEO Yes Disability Resource Centre.

For more information about the awards and the full list of finalists, visit