The World Class NZ 2015 Award Winners

_MG_0758Helen Clark has added to her lengthy list of accolades by winning the Supreme Award at Kea’s 2015 World Class New Zealand Awards.

The former Prime Minister was awarded the top honour this evening at a black tie VIP awards ceremony held at the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre on Auckland’s waterfront.

Clark made history in 1999 by becoming the first woman ever elected Prime Minister of New Zealand, leading the country through three Parliamentary terms until 2008.

Following her 28-year career in Parliament Clark moved to New York to take up the role of Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, one of the highest-ranked positions at the UN.

Kea CEO Craig Donaldson says the World Class New Zealand Award winners are world leaders in their respective fields and are tremendous assets to New Zealand, wherever they live in the world.

“Helen Clark is a remarkable and inspiring Kiwi who is making her mark on the global stage yet maintains close links with New Zealand,” he says.

“Kea’s global network has a community of over half a million, including expats, returned Kiwis and friends of New Zealand. This network holds huge value for all New Zealanders, especially when it comes to promoting New Zealand internationally and building global connections for businesses.”

The World Class New Zealand awards are presented by Kea New Zealand and recognise New Zealand’s tallest poppies.

Each World Class New Zealand Award winner receives a Tall Poppy statuette designed by Weta Workshop co-founder and 2009 Supreme Award winner Sir Richard Taylor.

As well as the supreme award winner, the ceremony also awarded four World Class New Zealand Award winners and one Friend of New Zealand Award winner.

The other World Class New Zealand Award winners were businesswoman and philanthropist Audette Exel, tech entrepreneur Victoria Ransom, renowned plastic surgeon and medical research Dr Swee Tan and former Olympian Beatrice Faumuina.

Exel is the founder of Adara Group, which uses the profits from its business activities to fund its charitable programmes combating poverty in places like Nepal.

Ransom is best known for creating the social media platform Wildfire, which she sold to Google in 2012. She now works for Google.

Faumuina, the first New Zealander of Pacific Island heritage to win a World Class New Zealand Award, was a world champion discus thrower and has become a business and community leader.

She is a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, was the founding CEO of the BEST Pasifika Leadership Academy and Charitable Foundation and is now Head of Talent and People Strategy for ASB Bank.

Malaysian-born Kiwi Dr Swee Tan is a renowned plastic surgeon and is the Executive Director of the not-for-profit Gillies McIndoe Research Institute, making breakthroughs in the treatment of birthmarks that have excited the scientific community.

The event also saw Malaysian businessman Tan Sri Halim Saad honoured with the Friend of New Zealand Award for his services to New Zealand and his work building the connection to Malaysia.

A graduate of Victoria University, he founded the Saad Foundation that sponsors the annual Saad Lecture that aims to promote greater awareness and understanding of Malaysia and its people in New Zealand.

Commenting on the ANZ-sponsored Friend of New Zealand award, David Green, ANZ’s Managing Director Institutional New Zealand, says New Zealand’s growth is supported by the strong connections we have built throughout the Asia Pacific region through the friendship of people like Tan Sri Halim.

“Through his achievements in building closer business and educational ties between New Zealand and Malaysia, Tan Sri Halim Saad has demonstrated himself to be a true friend of New Zealand. The award is particularly fitting recognition in the year that we mark the 40th year of New Zealand’s formal engagement with the rapidly-growing ASEAN community.”

Awards sponsor Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon says each of the winners play a hugely important role in both promoting New Zealand internationally and inspiring Kiwis to follow in their footsteps.

“Air New Zealand is all about taking New Zealand to the world – in a literal sense of course as we transport Kiwis to far flung corners of the globe, facilitate inbound tourism and expedite fresh New Zealand produce around the world – but also in the more figurative sense. Like Kea we are passionate about helping to nurture and showcase the best of New Zealand on the world stage, and it’s fantastic to see the talent, commitment and drive of the 2015 World Class New Zealand Award winners formally recognised in this way.”

The 2015 winners are:

Name Award Accomplishments Resides
Helen Clark Supreme Winner, presented by AUT
  • Administrator of the UN Development Programme
  • Former Prime Minister of New Zealand
New York,USA
Audette Exel WCNZ Award winner, presented by Prestige Consulting
  • Founder of social enterprise-based investment company Adara Group
  • Numerous awards for charity work in Nepal and Uganda
Beatrice Faumuina WCNZ Award winner, presented by Air New Zealand
  • Olympian
  • United Nations Goodwill Ambassador
  • Champion of Pasifika leadership and business
Auckland, New Zealand
Victoria Ransom WCNZ Award winner, presented by Spark Digital
  • US-based serial entrepreneur, founder of social media tool Wildfire, senior Google exec
Dr Swee Tan WCNZ Award winner, presented by AJ Park
  • World-leading  plastic and cranio-maxillofacial surgeon
  • Executive Director of Gillies McIndoe Research Institute
Wellington,New Zealand
Tan Sri Halim Saad Friend of New Zealand winner, presented by ANZ
  • Leading Malaysian businessman
  • Helped forge closer business and educational ties between New Zealand and Malaysia


This year’s judging panel featured:

  • Margaret Brimble CNZM
  • Peri Drysdale MBE
  • Andrew Ferrier
  • Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas DBE
  • Craig Nevill-Manning
  • Sir Anand Satyanand GNZM, QSO, KStJ
  • Dame Kiri Te Kanawa ONZ, DBE, AC
  • Phil Veal (Chairman of panel)


Kea’s Global Chairman Phil Veal, who chaired the judging panel, says the World Class New Zealand Awards showcase the best talent New Zealand has to offer. “The Kea network has created a borderless nation that enables New Zealand to benefit from all the amazing things Kiwis are doing around the world. It also keeps us in touch with Friends of New Zealand who have a strong connection to our country,” he says.

“The World Class New Zealand network gives access to the experience and knowledge of some of the highest-achieving Kiwis around the world. Making the most of the connection to these talented people is good for New Zealand’s economy and society.”

The awards are judged using a rigorous selection process. Nominees are evaluated against five main criteria with a strong focus on promoting New Zealand internationally, building global connections with New Zealand and facilitating the exchange of information, knowledge and skills from and about New Zealand.