Tall poppies celebrated at expat association awards

Illustrious New Zealanders gathered last night at an awards ceremony celebrating tall poppies, with former prime minister Helen Clark taking top honours.

Ms Clark, who became the United Nations Development Programme administrator after 28 years in Parliament, received the supreme award at expatriate association Kea’s ‘World Class New Zealand’ awards.

Others to receive awards were businesswoman philanthropist Audette Exel, tech entrepreneur Victoria Ransom, plastic surgeon Swee Tan and former Olympian Beatrice Faumuina.

Malaysian businessman Tan Sri Halim Saad received a ‘friend of New Zealand’ award for his work building relationships between New Zealand and Malaysia.

Sydney-based Kiwi Audette Exel has used her financial services background to create an effective charity for maternal infant child heath, trafficked children, and remote health and education services in the developing world.

The former managing director of Bermuda Commercial Bank and chairwoman of the Bermuda Stock Exchange founded the Adara Group (formerly the ISIS Group, but changed for obvious reasons). This generates funds through a private placement and corporate advisory business for the non-profit foundation to use.

Tech entrepreneur and NBR Rich Lister Victoria Ransom is well featured in the tech pages, having sold her company Wildfire to Google in May 2012 for a reported $US250 million, plus a $US100 million staff retention bonus.

Manawatu-born Ms Ransom remains working for Google, and is based in San Francisco.

World champion discus thrower Beatrice Faumuina has become a successful businesswoman since retiring from the sport in October 2011. She was the founding chief executive of BEST Pasifika Leadership Academy and Charitable Foundation and is now ASB talent and people strategy head. Ms Faumuina is also a United Nations goodwill ambassador.

Internationally recognised Kiwi plastic surgeon Swee Tan was born to plantation worker parents in Malaysia, and is now plastic and cranio-maxillofacial consultant surgeon at Hutt Hospital, and executive director of the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute.

He is especially well known for making breakthroughs in the treatment of birthmarks.

Kea global chairman Phil Veal says the awards showcase New Zealanders’ best achievements throughout the world.

“Making the most of the connection to these talented people is good for New Zealand’s economy and society.”

Each winner received a statuette of a tall poppy designed by Weta Workshop co-founder, and 2009 supreme award winner, Sir Richard Taylor.

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