My Sports Hero by Wynne Gray

In researching My Sports Hero, Auckland journalist and author Wynne Gray spoke to more than 100 prominent New Zealanders and asked them who their sports hero was, and why.

The answers ranged hugely. With some heroes, there was a close personal connection; with others it was a famous person admired from afar.

Some chose iconic New Zealanders, such as Sir Edmund Hillary, Sir John Walker, Sir Peter Snell, Sir Colin Meads, Yvette Williams and John Reid. Others went for teachers, parents or friends who had inspired them.

My Sports Hero is full of emotional and stimulating stories. What it does emphasise is that we all need heroes, people to model ourselves on, or draw inspiration from.

The people in this book, from Prime Minister John Key, actor Sam Neill, model Rachel Hunter and Maori activist Tame Iti, to celebrated opera singer Dame Kiri te Kanawa, to Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, to All Black captain Richie McCaw, have gone on to forge distinguished careers in a range of fields, but all were once young and impressionable and drew on the sports heroes of their time for encouragement and motivation.

These are their stories. They are rich in humour and nostalgia, and when read as a collection they provide a moving snapshot of some of the people who have shaped New Zealand.