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Poll ResultsPoll 219: Before looking at the options, how many New Zealanders can you name?
Total votes: 2527
I got a lot of feedback on this one. Of course I left some other specific names off the list; it was a matter of choosing five names from the dozens I could have chosen, to keep the number of poll options down to a reasonable number.
I picked Sir Edmund Hillary and Ernest Rutherford immediately as the two most internationally significant and enduringly famous New Zealanders of all time. (You could argue that, I suppose, but I'd be difficult to convince otherwise. Unfortuately, as many people commented, they of course knew of them but had no idea either one of them was a New Zealander.) Next, I picked Peter Jackson, because of his work on Lord of the Rings and how well known that would be amongst my audience. Fourth I decided another entertainer would be a reasonable pick, and chose Russell Crowe as probably the most famous, although as many people commented he is often thought of as Australian. (He lived here for many years, but has always been a New Zealand citizen.) Finally, I picked the current NZ Prime Minister, Helen Clark, figuring people who might not be interested in entertainers might know world politics instead.
I avoided sportspeople deliberately, as anyone who follows cricket or rugby can probably name a couple dozen Kiwis without even drawing breath.
And then there were the New Zealanders who wrote to me, saying they were confused by why I would ask such a specific question until they looked at the options and realised they could include famous people too. :-)