Sir Don McKinnon was named as the Supreme Award winner at the 2013 World Class New Zealand Awards at a gala dinner held in Auckland last night.
Sir Don has been recognised for 35 years of outstanding public service. His most notable achievements include the role of Commonwealth Secretary General, New Zealand’s longest serving Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, being a Nobel Prize nominee, and a member of the Order of New Zealand.
The Supreme Winner also brokered a 1997 accord that ended a decade of civil war in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, and has dealt with issues such as Robert Mugabe’s rule in Zimbabwe and George Speight’s attempted nationalist coup in Fiji.
Sir Don is currently the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Maldives and Vice President of the Royal Commonwealth Society.
John Stace, Chairman of Judges and Kea Global Board member, says he couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of the award.
“Sir Don’s championing of New Zealand – as well as championing Kiwi ethics such as fairness and humanity for all of the world’s people – puts him into a league of his own.”
Newspaper editor Andrew Holden received the Friend of New Zealand award for ensuring The Press would report the devastation of the February 22 Christchurch earthquake despite it killing one, and injuring many of his staff.
The award is given to a non-Kiwi who has made an exceptional contribution to the country.
Mr Stace says the Australian would have been well within his rights to stay home after finding out his wife and six-month-old baby were safe, but incredibly he drove back into the city to report on the mayhem.
"With much of the city’s infrastructure gone and people desperate for information, Andrew instinctively understood that a newspaper is a special kind of anchor in a crisis – and made sure it would fulfill that duty to citizens of the city. The next morning it came out, same as usual – belying the enormous effort required by Andrew and his staff to keep publishing.”
Other winners included Dr Doug Cleverly (Life Sciences), Annabel Langbein (Creative), Judith Hanratty (Investment and Business), Geraldine McBride (Information and Communications), Bill Buckley (Manufacturing Design and Innovation), Rob Fyfe (New Thinking), and Dr Sean Simpson (Science, Technology and Academia).