Among New Zealand's best-known statesmen are Sir George Grey (1812–98), governor and later prime minister; Richard John Seddon (1845–1906), prime minister responsible for much social legislation; William Ferguson Massey (1856–1925); and Peter Fraser (1884–1950), World War II prime minister. Robert David Muldoon (1921–92) was prime minister from 1975 to 1984, when David Lange (b.1942) became the youngest man to hold that office in the 20th century. Sir John Salmond (1862–1924) was an eminent jurist. William Pember Reeves (1857–1932), outstanding journalist, politician, and political economist, was the director of the London School of Economics. Frances Hodgkins (1869–1947) was a highly regarded painter. Katherine Mansfield (Kathleen Beauchamp Murry, 1888–1923), author of many evocative stories, was a master of the short-story form. Other well-known authors include Sylvia Ashton-Warner (1908–84) and Maurice Shadbolt (b.1932). Two outstanding leaders of the Maori people were Sir Apirana Ngata (1874–1950) and Sir Peter Buck (1880–1951). Sir Truby King (1858–1938) pioneered in the field of child care.
Lord Ernest Rutherford (1871–1937), pioneer in atomic research and 1908 Nobel Prize winner for chemistry, was born in New Zealand. Other scientists include Sir Harold Gillies (1882–1960) and Sir Archibald McIndoe (1900–62), whose plastic surgery methods did much to rehabilitate war victims; Sir Brian G. Barratt-Boyes (b.1924), a researcher in cardiac-thoracic surgery; and Albert W. Liley (b.1929), a researcher in perinatal psychology. Prominent in the arts have been ballet dancers Alexander Grant (b.1925) and Rowena Jackson (b.1926); the singer and actor Inia Watene Te Wiata (1915–71); and the soprano Kiri Te Kanawa (b.1944). Sir Edmund Percival Hillary (b.1919) was the conqueror of Mt. Everest. The celebrated political cartoonist David Low (1891–1963) was born in New Zealand.