New Zealand’s most prestigious night of Kiwi achievement, the Kea World Class New Zealand Awards was held last night at Auckland's Viaduct Events Centre. The black tie, sell-out event was as outstanding as ever. This year we celebrated 10 well deserving Kiwis and Friends of New Zealand.


Supreme Award Winners

New Zealand's leading philanthropic couple, Neal and Annette Plowman, have been named the 2018 Kea World Class New Zealand (WCNZ) Supreme Award winners. The Plowmans are exemplary Kiwis whose generous contribution to various community and conservation initiatives such as the Salvation Army, University of Auckland and conservation efforts at Abel Tasman National Park and Rotorua Island has had an immeasurably positive impact on New Zealand. They are two of New Zealand's most generous and truly humble individuals. It would be difficult to find two individuals more deserving of this year’s top honour.

  • In 2014, founded the NEXT Foundation, to administer a 10-year, NZD$100 million programme of strategic philanthropy. The Foundation donates NZD$5 - $15 million per year to no more than three major environmental or educational initiatives deemed to have the potential to be nationally transformative.
  • Formed a partnership with the Department of Conservation on a 30-year project to restore and conserve the native ecology of Abel Tasman National Park, ending in 2024.
  • Negotiated a 99-year lease of Rotoroua Island, previously used as a drug and rehabilitation centre until 2004 – creating a conservation park and enabling public access to the island for the first time in over 100 years.
  • Major supporters of the Salvation Army for over 30 years.
  • Major supporters of the University of Auckland (UoA), and UoA Business School since 2003 – including towards the establishment of a Chair of Entrepreneurship.
  • Major supporters of Teach First NZ – an innovative not-for-profit organisation that works in partnership with the UoA to place carefully selected teachers and inspirational leaders into lower decile schools to help improve educational achievement.
  • Successfully grew family-founded business New Zealand Towel Services to be listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange, before privatising in 1986, and selling the company to US firm Alsco in 1998.
  • Founded and sold multiplex cinema chain, Hoyts.
  • Neal Plowman was inducted into the Business Hall of Fame in 2007 and shortlisted for New Zealander of the Year in 2012.
  • Major donors towards the Turner Centre in Kerikeri – a modern, multi-purpose, performing arts complex. Annette Plowman continues to be involved as the Centre’s patron.


Friends of New Zealand

Business leaders and champions for Kiwi innovation, Brian and Matthew Monahan, have been named as the 2018 Kea Friends of New Zealand. For nearly a decade, the US-born brothers have made significant contributions to New Zealand’s entrepreneurial and innovation landscape. The various initiatives and organisations they’ve founded have helped connect Kiwi innovators with the rest of the world, as well as attract some of the best international talent to our shores including the establishment of Wellington-based organisation, Kiwi Connect, and their ongoing work with the Edmund Hillary Fellowship.

  • Co-founded and launched Wellington-based support organisation, Kiwi Connect, with a goal of building networks between New Zealand’s innovation community and other global technology hubs.
  • Via their work with Kiwi Connect, helped to catalyse the Global Impact Visa – a world first, giving budding entrepreneurs and investors the opportunity to launch and run innovation-based start-ups from New Zealand.
  • Established the New Frontiers initiative as an annual gathering of global changemakers with a focus on eco innovation.
  • Established the Edmund Hilary Fellowship in partnership with the Hillary Institute – designed to build the community of Global Impact Visa recipients coupled with local Kiwi entrepreneurs and enable New Zealand’s start-up community to access exceptional entrepreneurial talent from around the globe.
  • Founded the Namaste Foundation to support non-profit projects spanning a variety of environmental and social causes.
  • Founded and ran a successful genealogy business, which was sold to in 2012 for US$100 million.
  • Founded Silicon Valley-based technology company, Inflection, designed to help build trust online.

 Peter Beck

Peter Beck

World Class New Zealand award winner Peter Beck is the founder and CEO of Rocket Lab. He is being recognised as a pioneer in New Zealand’s space community, including his instrumental role in establishing international treaties and legislation to enable orbital launch capability from New Zealand.

  • Founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, an orbital launch company revolutionising access to space for small satellites
  • Peter led a team of engineers to develop the ĀTEA-1 rocket in 2009, a launch that saw Rocket Lab become the first private company in the Southern Hemisphere to reach space
  • In 2013 Peter established the Electron orbital launch programme to develop the world’s first fully carbon-composite launch vehicle, powered by the world’s first 3D printed, electric turbopump-fed rocket engine
  • Oversaw the development of the first and only private orbital launch range on the globe, located on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula
  • First successful orbital launch completed in January 2018

Mark Sagar

World Class New Zealand award winner Mark Sagar is the CEO and co-founder of Soul Machines, and director of the Laboratory for Animate Technologies at the University of Auckland’s Bioengineering Institute. He is being recognised for his work developing new technologies to humanise artificial intelligence.

  • Double Academy Award winner via his previous role as the Special Projects Supervisor at Weta Digital and Sony Pictures Imageworks and developed technology for the characters in blockbusters such as Avatar, King Kong, and Spiderman-2
  • CEO/co-founder of Soul Machines
  • Director of the Laboratory for Animate Technologies at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute
  • Mark has a Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of Auckland
  • Was a post-doctoral fellow at M.I.T.
  • His pioneering work in computer-generated faces was awarded Scientific and Engineering Oscars in 2010 and 2011

Cliff Curtis

World Class New Zealand award winner Cliff Curtis is the founder of Arama Pictures, co-founder of Whenua Films, and multi-award-winning actor. He is being recognised for his commitment to indigenous storytelling, including Arama Pictures feature The Dark Horse and short film Ahi Ka.

  • Four-time NZ Film and Television award-winning actor
  • Formed Maori film production company Whenua Films with cousin Ainsley Gardiner – 2004: The pair produced Taika Waititi’s WWII short film Tama Tū (2005), debut feature, geek comedy Eagle vs Shark (2007), and Boy (2010)
  • Founded Arama Pictures (2013): which has produced feature The Dark Horse and short film Ahi Ka, and television series This is Piki
  • Has over 50 credits to date for producing and acting in TV, theatre and film
  • Starred in movies alongside Hollywood legends such as Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Hopkins and George Clooney
  • Starred in AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead alongside Kim Dickens
  • Part of the cast of the upcoming Avatar sequels written and directed by James Cameron which are due for release starting in 2020

Dr Delwyn Moller

World Class New Zealand award winner Dr Delwyn Moller is the Director of Research at the Centre for Space Science Technology (Alexandra, NZ) and previously a NASA and Jet Propulsion Lab scientist. She is being recognised for her ground-breaking contribution to the development of state-of-the-art earth science technology systems. This includes developing high-resolution radar imaging technology to enable new areas of scientific discovery, and an extensive contribution to our understanding of climate change via ongoing study of ice sheets and glaciers.

  • Director of Research and the Centre for Space Science Technology, Alexandra, NZ
  • Principal Systems Engineer at Remote Sensing Solutions, Inc (RSS)
  • Joined NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) where she worked on radar technology, primarily with a focus on Earth science
  • She has won multiple JPL and NASA awards and was a co-recipient of the prestigious NASA Space Act award for planetary landing radar design
  • Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • M.E degree (Distinction) and B.E. degree (Honors) from the University of Auckland


Mitchell Pham

World Class New Zealand award winner Mitchell Pham is a Director of the Augen Software Group in New Zealand and Vietnam, co-founder of the Kiwi Connection Tech Hub, Chair of NZTech and of FinTechNZ. He is being recognised for his contribution to the technology sector in New Zealand and NZ-Asia relations.

  • A Director of the Augen Software Group in New Zealand and Vietnam
  • Co-founder of the Kiwi Connection Tech Hub – a platform for NZ technology businesses to accelerate presence & engagement in South East Asia
  • Co-founder of Smart Links Swiss - a tech company solving real world problems with blockchain technology
  • Co-founder of - a global community-driven online review ecosystem for reviewers, professionals and businesses, powered and connected by Blockchain
  • Recognised as an Asia 21 Fellow by the Asia Society, and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum
  • Chair of the NZ Technology Industry Association (NZTech) and the NZ Financial Innovation & Technology Association (FinTechNZ)
  • Co-founder of the NZ Health IT Cluster (NZHIT) and the Global InsurTech Alliance (GITA)
  • Advisor at the Asia New Zealand Foundation
  • Trustee of the Auckland Refugee Family Trust (ARFT) and the Foundation for Social Responsibility NZ (FOStR-NZ)
  • Formerly, an advisor at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), trustee of Refugee Services Aotearoa and Asia New Zealand Foundation, and board member of Health Informatics New Zealand (HiNZ)
  • New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) Beachheads Advisor in technology business for South East Asia.
  • Member of the Ethnic People in Commerce (EPICNZ) network, NZ Asian Leaders (NZAL) forum, and NZ Superdiversity Council
  • Member of the Strategic Alliance Vietnamese Ventures International (SAVVi) network and executive of the global Vietnamese diaspora business network (BAOOV)

Jennifer Flay

World Class New Zealand award winner Jennifer Flay is the General Director of Paris’ Foire. Internationale d’Art Contemporain (FIAC) or International Contemporary Art Fair, has been included in recognition of her contribution to the fine arts, and leading the renewal of one of the most prestigious arts events in the world.

  • General Director of FIAC, 2010 – present
  • Artistic Director of FIAC, 2003-2010
  • Opened Galerie Jennifer Flay, 1990-2003
  • Participated actively in two travelling exhibitions by Christian Boltanski, alongside American curators Lynn Gumpert and Mary Jane Jacobs, and European curators Catherine Lampert, Jan Debbaut and Serge Lemoine.
  • Author of authoritative publication: Christian Boltanski, Catalogue – Books, Printed Matter, Ephemera – 1966-1991
  • Received the following distinctions: Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, and Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres

2018 World Class New Zealand Awards Gallery:
2018 Kea World Class New Zealand Awards

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