Future Thinker of the Year 2023

Congratulations to this year's Future Thinker of the Year, Maria Walker!

Future Thinker of the Year is awarded annually to a student or recent graduate who has demonstrated environmental knowledge and leadership. This could be through activism, research, or achievements in and out of work. It recognises success and passion for green buildings, and offers an opportunity to make a real difference across Aotearoa’s built environment. 

Open to apprentices, students and anyone who graduated in the last 4 years, Future Thinker of the Year awards our young leaders who are passionate about sustainability, can champion the values of the NZGBC, and who will help inspire change in our built environment. 

“I’m thrilled that, as finalists, NZGBC provided this platform for us to share our innovations and our challenges to the industry last night. For my own vision and mahi to have been acknowledged is an honour. To optimise the impact of green initiatives, we need to build trust, exposure, and data exchange between academia, practice, and disciplines. I look forward to connecting with other agents of change in a bid to transform industry mindsets regarding biomaterials and digital design, and to make experience-rich learning more accessible to young people,” Maria says.

This year we had an incredibly strong set of applicants, with nine shortlisted: Nola Smart, Ruby Crooks, Oludolapo Olanrewaju, Luis Medrano, Rana Abdollahi Rizi, Maria Walker, Maggie MacKinnon, Emily Newmarch, and Alexander Wierzbicki

Four finalists; Oludolao Olanrewaju, Luis Medrano, Maria Walker and Emily Newmarch were chosen by our independent panel of judges and each presented their ideas at our awards evening on May 4

We're proud to have had some tremendously talented applicants and candidates since the award was created in 2019. 

Previous winners include Master of Architecture student Eloise Blewden, urban strategist Meredith Dale, sustainability lead Tessa Meyer, and sustainability engineer Kate Boylan.

A huge thank you to our Future Thinker sponsors