New Zealand is a young country that is not yet rich in history compared to nations located in places like Western Europe or Asia. However, New Zealanders (or Kiwis) are stereotypically known for their ability to rise above the odds and achieve extraordinary feats of greatness. This article focuses on three famous New Zealanders who used their humble upbringings to make headlines across the world in their respective fields.

Sir Edmund Hillary

Sir Edmund Hillary gained worldwide fame in 1953 when he became the first man to climb to the summit of the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest. He would also later join an expedition to the South Pole and also the North Pole, becoming the first person in the world to reach both poles as well as scale Mount Everest. These achievements, along with his philanthropy work would eventually lead to his face being featured on the New Zealand five dollar note and provide inspiration for a younger generation of New Zealanders who were captivated by his passion for adventure.

"In some ways I believe I epitomise the average New Zealander: I have modest abilities, I combine these with a good deal of determination, and I rather like to succeed." - Sir Edmund Hillary

Bruce Mclaren

Bruce Mclaren is famous for the mark he left on world motorsports – he was the founder of Formula One racing team Mclaren. The team would go on to win numerous drivers' and constructors' championships in the Formula One era (the latest drivers' championship was won in 2008 by Lewis Hamilton. Bruce Mclaren started his life with humble beginnings. As a young child he contracted Perthes Disease, which left his left leg shorter than his right. Despite this, he spent his childhood immersed in his passion – motor racing – which was easy due to his parents owning a service station and a workshop. During his teenage years he would commence a motor racing career that would eventually spur him to fame as a F1 driver – winning his first race as a 22 year old. He would win 4 F1 races and also launch his own racing team, known as Mclaren Racing which would live on long after his death in 1970.

Kate Sheppard

Long before the feminist movement gained popularity worldwide Kate Sheppard was a prominent figure of the New Zealand's women's suffrage movement which gave women the right to vote. In 1893, largely due to Kate Sheppard's leadership and fight for a worthy cause, New Zealand became the first country to grant unrestricted voting rights to women. This achievement would spur other countries to grant similar voting rights to women in the following years. New Zealand has not forgotten her contribution to society either – her face covers the New Zealand ten dollar note.

The three New Zealanders above were just a few of the famous people who designed the cultural fabric for their country. New Zealanders are well known for their qualities such as ingenuity, independence and an adventurous spirit. For such a small country of only 4 million people, New Zealand is a country that will continue to produce leaders and free thinkers who will shape the world's future.