Herald poll: Willie Apiata greatest living NZer

The Herald has had a poll for the greatest living New Zealander – and it apparently showed Helen Clark to be the greatest. Now that doesn’t really make much sense, sure she’s been PM for a while but that hardly earns her the title. On further analysis, it would actually have been nearly mathematically impossible for anyone else to come out on top, regardless of who really is the greatest.

My reasoning is: Out of the top 6, who got over 1000 votes each, the average voter would be familiar enough with 3 names to consider voting for them (they may recognise others but not be familiar with what they have done). But every single voter would be familiar with Helen Clark, as her name has been all over the media for 9 years.

So what would happen if everyone voted at random for someone they were familiar with, assuming everyone is familiar with Helen Clark and 2 other names?

Person                    Random   Actual
Helen Clark              3559        3163
Willie Apiata             1424        2645
Sir Murray Halberg    1424        1467
Peter Jackson            1424        1340
Peter Snell                1424        1041
Colin Meads              1424        1021

Note that:

  • The random values are remarkably close to the actual votes – maybe people just did pick a name at random…
  • Helen Clark actually did worse than would be expected if people had just voted randomly.
  • Willie Apiata stands out as the only person who gained far more votes than would be expected if votes were randomised – he is therefore the winner of this poll in my mind.
  • Even if you assume people are familiar with 4 rather than 3 names you get a similar result.

The fact is that the true “greatest living New Zealander” is probably someone none of us have ever heard of, and probably will never hear of.

Hat tip: New Zealand Conservative

EDIT: I am very encouraged by Apiata’s excellent result in this poll, as it shows that despite the fascination with sportspeople in our culture, people still recognise that courage under fire is of far greater worth than an ability to throw a ball well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: