Hayley Westenra

New Zealand's highest-selling solo artist

At age 12 she earned the money to self-finance the recording of her first album by busking on the streets of Christchurch. She sold the entire run of 70 copies she had made.

Four years later she released an album on a major label. It sold more than two million copies worldwide.

That album was Pure, a pop-classical crossover that mixed Māori songs with Euro-pop ballads, opera standards and even a cover of Kate Bush's brilliant and challenging breakthrough single Wuthering Heights. The album was so successful it made Hayley Westenra an international singing star at the age of 16.

Determined not to be a one-hit wonder, Westenra worked tirelessly as she juggled the demands of being an international star at such a young age and completing her schooling.


Her follow up album Odyssey quickly followed and had a typically eclectic song selection, including a duet with fellow cross-over star Andrea Bocelli, a song from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, and a cover of Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now. Like its predecessor, it also reached number one in the charts.

Since then she's had four more New Zealand number one albums - more than any other Kiwi solo singer. She has also been involved with a number of international charities and became the second youngest UNICEF Ambassador.

Speaking about her philanthropy she said: "People always say, 'Oh, it's so great that you do all this charity work,' but it makes you feel really good inside and it's given me the opportunity to give something back."

Having topped charts, sung with the world's best singers and orchestras, and performed for royalty and heads of state, Westenra stepped away from the limelight following the release of her sixth album Hushabye in 2013.