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Get inspired by the winners of the 2017 Kea World Class New Zealand Awards

The 2017 Kea World Class New Zealand Awards were as spectacular as always. And like always, there's great wisdom to be learned from the winners.

Philanthropist and celebrated artist, Lady Pippa Blake, was recognised as one of the big winners of the 2017 Kea World Class New Zealand (WCNZ) Awards, becoming the first ever female recipient of the Friend of New Zealand title.

The sell-out gala dinner, held last Thursday at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre, saw UK-born Lady Pippa commended for her ongoing work with the Sir Peter Blake Trust, which she established in 2004 in order to continue her late husband’s legacy.

Lady Pippa Blake.

Kea NZ CEO Craig Donaldson says the awards celebrate the work of world-class Kiwis, and friends of New Zealand, who are helping to define our nation’s reputation on the world stage –with Lady Pippa being a prime example.

“Over the last 13 years, Pippa has dedicated herself entirely to driving the Trust’s growth, and inspiring our next generation of Kiwi leaders, adventurers and environmentalists,” he says. “She has successfully transitioned the organisation from a coordinator of beach clean ups, to that of large off-shore expeditions. Their flagship event, the Sir Peter Blake Trust Leadership Week, has grown to include roughly 1000 events around the country – including the Dream Sessions, which connect inspirational New Zealanders with young Kiwis, to teach them to back themselves in achieving their dreams.”

On the night, Lady Pippa received a Kea WCNZ Tall Poppy statuette, designed by Weta workshop co-founder (and 2009 Supreme Award winner) Sir Richard Taylor.

In addition to the Friend of New Zealand Award, the ceremony celebrated two Supreme Award winners, Sir Peter Jackson and Lady Fran Walsh – for their significant work establishing New Zealand on the world stage as a top tourist destination, and location of choice for the international film industry.

“Fran and Peter are two of New Zealand’s biggest household names, both locally and around the globe,” says Donaldson of the filmmaking duo. “They’re quiet achievers, who, despite having achieved phenomenal success within their industry, remain two of the most charmingly humble people you could ever hope to meet. Their work has continually showcased our beautiful country to the world – serving not only to drive our reputation as a top tourist destination, but also as a location of choice for the film industry,

Also recognised were six World Class New Zealanders, including award-winning choreographer Parris Goebel, businessperson Sir Rob Fenwick, scientist and entrepreneur Dr Privahini Bradoo, leading scientist Dr Phil Rolston, founder of Wrightspeed Inc. Ian Wright, and chef Robert Oliver.

Judging panel chair and Kea global chairperson Phil Veal says picking winners was as hard as ever. “As is the case every year, the Awards are a showcase of the very best talent New Zealand has to offer,” he says. “Each of our winners were subject to a rigorous judging process, which assessed them against five core criteria. A big focus for us is on how they’ve contributed to New Zealand’s global reputation, building global connections for New Zealand, as well as how they’ve promoted the exchange of information, knowledge and skills about our country.”

Among the coterie of high-profile guests was Prime Minister Bill English. Speaking before the awards began, he said he “enjoyed” Idealog.