Rotorua's Louise Nicholas admits she's "speechless" at being named one of three finalists in the 2016's Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year award.

The other finalists are environmentalist and business leader Rob Fenwick (Waiheke Island) and former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

Mrs Nicholas told the Rotorua Daily Post she was "blown away" and just to be nominated alongside the other two was a huge honour.

"I'm speechless, I really am lost for words."


Mrs Nicholas said she was thankful for all nominations and that it helps to put sexual violence out there into the public arena.

"It's about what we do collectively for our survivors and families."

It was acknowledgment of the people who do the hard work and support our survivors too, she said.

Her eldest daughter will be accompanying her to the awards evening.

"We're not accustomed to these sorts of events. At the end of the day, all those nominated for all the awards are amazing people that do so much for New Zealand."

Chief judge Cameron Bennett said Mrs Nicholas continued to inspire with her remarkable courage and determination as one of this country's foremost advocates and campaigners for women and the victims of sexual violence.

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"She battled against extraordinary odds to find justice and now tirelessly works for others to find the same."

He said the three finalists represented aspiration, ambition, determination to succeed and drive to explore what's possible.

"Rob Fenwick is considered one of New Zealand's foremost statesmen for sustainability and the environment. His motivational skills and elegant leadership have benefited numerous conservation organisations over the years.

"Richie McCaw's contribution to New Zealand extends well beyond his storied rugby career. The unrivalled character and leadership he shows on the rugby field is just as evident off it in his charitable work."

The annual New Zealander of the Year awards are in their seventh year. More than 330 nominations were received for the title of 2016 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.

The winner will be announced at the New Zealander of the Year Gala Awards evening in Auckland on February 17.

Previous winners of the New Zealander of the Year Award are Sir Stephen Tindall (2015), Dr Lance O'Sullivan (2014), Dame Anne Salmond (2013), Sir Richard Taylor (2012), Sir Paul Callaghan (2011) and Sir Ray Avery (2010).