Salute to 150 years of inspiration

Special edition honours Kiwi greats and celebrates memories good and bad since Herald first published in 1863.

Dick Frizzell has brought five of New Zealand's trail-blazers to colourful new life to mark the Herald's 150th birthday. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Dick Frizzell has brought five of New Zealand's trail-blazers to colourful new life to mark the Herald's 150th birthday. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Today, the Herald celebrates 150 years of publication through thick and thin, war and peace, good times and lean. In doing so, we also honour the memory of more than 150 of the greatest New Zealanders from the beginning of our time, in 1863.

To mark our birthday, we present a souvenir edition brimming with commemorations of Kiwis who have inspired us and our forebears through the columns of our daily newspaper.

The special wrap-around cover of today's Herald, of five of our trail-blazers brought to new life by the water colours of iconographic artist Dick Frizzell, is just the start of the celebrations. Inside is a 108-page magazine replicating the Frizzell portraits on its cover and edited by former Weekend Herald editor-turned-historian David Hastings, marking the life and times of a New Zealander of the Year or entire groups of nation-builders for each year stretching back to the dawn of the newspaper on Friday, November 13, 1863.


Hastings and Herald editors have added to the intrigue by in some cases making two or more picks - one for the newspaper of days gone by and others through the eyes of the 21st century version aided by the judgments of history and benefits of 20-20 hindsight.

A striking example is the contrast between the man who would most obviously have been the 1863 Herald's favourite New Zealander, Governor George Grey, and our modern-day pick, King Movement founder and peace-maker Wiremu Tamihana - who is in our Top 10 list of all time.

Click here to see our interactive feature on the ten greatest New Zealanders of the past 150 years.

And check out our new interactive timelines:
Greatest New Zealanders - 1863-1912
Greatest New Zealanders - 1913-1962
Greatest New Zealanders - 1963-2012

Frizzell admits his assignment was daunting given the pressure he felt under to come up with "something iconic ... always a trick because you can't invent them".

After considering landmarks such as the Auckland Harbour Bridge, he quickly realised the mission could only be about people - those who have helped to make us who we are.

His choice of great Kiwi, mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary, for the frontispiece of his contribution to our birthday special was a no-brainer - that rugged visage encapsulating the spirit of fortitude and endurance with which so many New Zealanders identify.

Frizzell put his unique imprint on a painting of Sir Ed he had noticed for some years hanging half-way up a stairway at Auckland War Memorial Museum, promising the Herald he would put new life into it by making it "unassailably Dick Frizzell".

"It was an image I thought was completely undervalued historically but it was one of my favourites - and I totally got it; I couldn't believe how it came up."

For his other portraits, Frizzell struck a balance between science and sport, the emancipation of women and Maori rights embodied respectively in Lord Ernest Rutherford, Richie McCaw, Kate Sheppard and Dame Whina Cooper.

The signed original of each portrait is to be auctioned off next month for the Starship children's hospital national air ambulance appeal.

A hundred and fifty limited-edition prints of a collage of all five portraits available for sale today, for $150 each on sold out early this morning.

But the celebrations don't stop there and we invite you, our readers, to join in by telling us what you think of our pick of the greatest Kiwis and who else you might have nominated.

Art sale for charity

To buy one of the five artworks

Public auction:

Art+Object New Collectors Art,
Tuesday, December 10,
6.30pm, 3 Abbey St, Newton
More details:

To buy 1 of 150 prints of the cover wrap for $150

The 150 special-edition signed prints are available for public sale via GrabOne (

- NZ Herald

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