IN TOUCH : Celebrating World-Class Kiwis

Busy, energetic people who want to give something back. That’s how judge Mai Chen describes the winners of this year’s Kea World Class New Zealand Awards.
The 2008 Awards – at which winners in seven different categories will be recognised and the name of the supreme winner revealed – take place in Auckland later this month. They pay homage to group of individuals who have made major contributions to New Zealand’s success on the world stage.
Chen says she was more than happy to join the judging panel when requested by Kea chair Stephen Tindall as her own family arrived in New Zealand in 1970 with nothing and received help from others, so it’s only natural and right to give something back.
“It’s the opposite of [Pirates of the Caribbean hero] Captain Jack Sparrow and the pirates’ creed to take everything you can and give nothing back,” Chen says.
Speaking on the day of Sir Ed Hillary’s funeral, she said while the country had buried hero that day, it was important New Zealanders know there are other heroes and role models out there.
“These are all busy people but they still want to give something back,” Chen said, adding that it’s good to have things to celebrate.
The World Class New Zealand Awards are run by Kea New Zealand and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and aim to showcase the “best of the best” of New Zealand talent with one award being made in each of the categories: biotechnology; ICT; manufacturing; research, science, technology & academia; finance, investment & business services; the creative industries; and “new thinking”. The winners will be featured in Management’s March issue.
Chen was part of panel of six judges including Tindall and previous award winner Paul Callaghan of Victoria University. Each of the winners will receive ‘Tall Poppy’, unique statuette designed and produced by the Oscar-winning WETA Workshop in Wellington. Richard Taylor, who provided the concept and art direction for the statuette says he had an immediate vision of stem-like figure reaching up to carry the weight of the blossoming poppy at arms length.
The black-tie gala awards dinner will be held at the Langham Hotel in Auckland on 27 February.  Tickets are limited and available by phoning Victoria on 09 302 3100 or from [email protected].

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