In this blog I list 7 Kiwi men who have been noted this year for their successes in the entertainment and sporting worlds.


Because the 4 actors I mention in this blog now live in the USA, we don’t hear much about them back home in New Zealand. However, they are quietly making names for themselves in the tough world of Hollywood.


The long running New Zealand TV soap, Shortland Street, has created a stable of actors that have become celebrities. Some have gone onto starring roles in Hollywood. The latest guy to achieve success there is 18 year old K.J.Apa. After just 18 months on the Kiwi soap, K.J. headed to the USA and was immediately snapped up by a Hollywood agent. He has just finished acting in a sci-fi series called The Cul-de-sac. He will next star in the lead role of Ethan in the Dreamworks production of  A Dog’s Purpose.

 K.J wasn’t initially interested in doing an acting workshop with the company who produce Shortland Street but he was finally convinced it would be a good move. Shortly after completing the course, he was offered a part on the long running soap and he soon became the heartthrob the producers were hoping for. Hollywood executives say he is like a young Tom Cruise and think he’s going to be massive and is the biggest thing to ever come from New Zealand. His swarthy good looks obviously had a part to play in this summation.


Forty five year old Karl Urban also appeared on Shortland Street. Since leaving the show in 1994, he has starred in 28 movies including two Lord of the Rings and two Star Trek titles, as well as The Bourne Supremacy, Bent, Pete’s Dragon and Walking with Dinosaurs among others. Karl latest Hollywood role is as Skurge in the new blockbuster, Thor:Ragnarok.

Apart from big screen performances, Karl has also starred in 16 TV series including Zena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.


Anthony Starr is another Kiwi TV star who has done well in Hollywood. The 41 year old actor began his acting career in the 1990s on Shortland Street before appearing in a number of other New Zealand TV shows. He is best known for his dual role as twins Jethro and Van West in the successful drama Outrageous Fortune. He also appeared in the equally successful NZ drama, Mercy Peak.

With the experience he gained acting in local productions, Anthony moved to Los Angeles where his strong features attracted attention. Since his time in America, he has appeared in the American TV shows Banshee and American Gothic.


Born Jay Bunyan in 1981, Jay Ryan is another young New Zealand actor making waves internationally. From 2002 to 2005, Jay played Jack Scully in the Australian soap, Neighbours. He then appeared in the Australian drama series Sea Patrol before a 4 year stint on the New Zealand drama Go Girls.

More recently, Jay has starred in the UK/NZ/USA co-production Top of the Lake. In 2012, he appeared in his first American TV series, Beauty and the Beast. He is currently starring in the Canadian TV series Mary Kills People.

Like fellow Kiwi actors K.J, Karl and Anthony Starr, Jay’s masculine good looks have helped make him an international screen actor.


Being a sporting nation, it is no surprise that top kiwi sportsmen are closely followed by the media and their sporting achievements are celebrated by their millions of fans.


In 2014, NRL Warriors half back, Shaun Johnson was awarded the Golden Boot Award by Rugby League World magazine. The award was given to him after a ballot of international media representatives voted the 27 year old player to be the best in the world.

Shaun joined the Junior Warriors in 2009 and graduated to the NRL in 2011. He has been the star player with the Warriors since then. On 29 January 2016, the popular player was made captain of the Warriors Auckland Nines squad.  Along with Simon Mannering, Shaun is the best known team member and has a large fan base. Females admire his swarthy good looks and cheeky smile while men admire his muscular physique and athleticism. I have seen Shaun taking polite control on a radio station’s TV channel where he adlibbed the “interview” with some laid back announcers. I was impressed with the way he expertly took over the live proceedings to save things collapsing into a mindless waste of time. It demonstrated a strong personality and showed how focused he was on bringing some structure into the free range situation.


The three letters “SBW” are instantly recognized by most Kiwis (and many sports fans around the world) because Sonny Bill Williams is possibly New Zealand’s best known male athlete.

Sonny Bill’s appeal lies in his superb physicality and gentle manner. His body is praised and admired by both sexes because of its muscularity. He is noted for having one of the lowest levels of body fat of any athlete around.

Sonny Bill Williams was just 19 when he first played in the NRL for the Australian Bulldogs. That same year, 2014, he was selected to play for the Kiwis in the Anzac Test. This made him the youngest ever test player. From that time, Sonny Bill’s career has remained on a spectacular level, so much so, a number of books have been written on his achievements. Despite the continuous publicity surrounding him, he is a shy person and keeps his private life – well, private. We do know he is recently married and is already a father. He is also the first Muslim All Black. We also know he is popular with his fellow team members and is a stabilizing influence in a world where parties and booze play a noted role. Although he takes his body’s appearance seriously, he brushes off the “sexy” and “hot” comments but he is happy to be an inspiration to young Pacific Island men, encouraging them to ditch fast food and to exercise. With his body as an example, they are motivated to follow his advice.


Apart from rugby, yachting has been the other sport to keep Kiwis in front of the TV this year. The America’s Cup win was just the icing on the cake for handsome yachtsman Blair Tuke and his long time sailing partner, Peter Burling.

Female reporters have called 28 year old Blair “New Zealand’s coolest bachelor”. When asked why he didn’t have a girlfriend, he replied by saying he was too focused on sailing and he got enough thrills from the sport to keep him single for a while yet.

Blair Tuke and Peter Burling were the youngest winning team at the 2012 London Olympics and were the first sailors to win the 49er class World Championships in four consecutive years. They currently hold the NZ Sports Team of the Year Trophy, not to mention numerous other sporting awards. The two sailors were also named members of New Zealand’s Order of Merit in the New Year’s Honour’s List of 2017.

Blair has found a new challenge. He will be a trimmer/helmsman with Spanish team MAPFRE for the 2017 – 18 Volvo Ocean Race skippered by his long-time friend and rival in the Olympic 49er class Xabi Fernandez. The Kiwi yachtsman is aiming to achieve a rare treble of Olympic, America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race victories in consecutive years. To win all three events is unprecedented but the country’s much admired yachtsman has a real chance of achieving his goal.

Ceidrik Heward

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