A Short History of Kea

Kea was conceived and launched at the Knowledge Wave Conference in Auckland in August 2001, and announced by Sir Stephen Tindall and Prof David Teece, who were the principal funders initially. Dr George Barker is the third Founding Director.

After the organisation was formally established in New Zealand, Kea Silicon Valley was launched in March 2002 at an event at UC Berkeley. By the end of 2003, Kea Chapters had been launched in the UK (London), New England (Boston), Los Angeles, the Netherlands (Amsterdam) and Sydney.

In the early years, most funding was provided by private philanthropy, with some revenue from government and commercial sources. The New Zealand Government increased its commitment to the country’s offshore community with major funding that enabled Kea to improve its infrastructure and develop a world-class website, launched in July 2005.

In January 2006, the New Zealand office of HSBC became Kea’s main global sponsor. By that time, Chapters had also been established in New York, China (Shanghai) and the Middle East (Dubai). In March 2006, following a successful initial event in 2004, Kea and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise named six winners of the World Class New Zealand (WCNZ) Awards, honouring highly successful people who enhance New Zealand’s reputation and connections around the world. The WCNZ Awards are now an annual highlight of New Zealand’s social calendar.

Also beginning in March 2006, more than 18,000 overseas New Zealanders participated in Every One Counts, New Zealand’s largest-ever census of New Zealanders overseas.

In June 2007, Kea won both the High-Growth Sector and the Supreme Awards at the Vero Excellence in Business Support Awards.

In mid-2007, Kea’s first paid Regional Manager was appointed in Shanghai, with financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In the 2007 Budget, the Government announced its first multi-year commitment to Kea, enabling the appointment of three additional Regional Managers as well as staff to build and maintain Kea’s global infrastructure. New full-time Regional Managers were appointed in Australia, the UK, and North America by February 2008.

The four Regional Managers have hugely increased Kea’s contribution and profile across the world, organising and/or publicising hundreds of New Zealand-related events and adding thousands of people to our country’s global network.

Beginning in early 2008, Kea and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise commenced a series of workshops around the world to build the World Class New Zealand concept into an active network producing tangible results for New Zealand.

Surveys, Projects and Programmes

Every Vote Counts
Kea’s global campaign, Every Vote Counts, encouraged New Zealanders around the world to vote in the 2008 General Election. The campaign launch was associated with an immediate and sustained increase in voter enrolments from overseas, and with the highest number of overseas votes in any peacetime General Election.

Diaspora Investment into New Zealand
In 2011 Kea undertook an in-depth research study to understand the motivations of expats to invest into the productive economy. The aim was to validate the potential of the diaspora to encourage Foreign Direct Investment into New Zealand by determining the segmentation of investor types and the type of investment opportunities that would be attractive to them; to quantify the level of prospective investors in the diaspora and economic value add potential; and to identify key investor roadblocks to attracting investment into certain segments. A copy of this research can be found here.

Every Kiwi Counts
In 2013 Kea held the Every Kiwi Counts survey which asked 12,000 expats about their connection to New Zealand and their life offshore. The findings from this report can be explored here.

Access New Zealand’s Global Network

Kea is a global community of Kiwis and friends of NZ that exists to inspire, connect and enable a borderless nation of one million advocates, champions and storytellers for New Zealand.

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