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Technology business leader Mitchell Pham to be celebrated with Kea World Class New Zealand Award


New Zealand’s most prestigious celebration of individual achievement, the Kea World Class New Zealand (WCNZ) Awards, has today announced six of its 2018 award recipients.

In addition to Pham, this year’s winners include innovator and engineer, Peter Beck; AI trailblazer Mark Sagar; award-winning actor and producer Cliff Curtis; prominent Earth scientist Dr Delwyn Moller; and art world powerhouse Jennifer Flay.

The Supreme Award (won last year by Sir Peter Jackson and Lady Fran Walsh), and Friend of New Zealand Award (won last year by Pippa Lady Blake), will be announced at a Gala Dinner at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre on Thursday 21st June.

Kea Global CEO Craig Donaldson says the Awards are an important opportunity to recognise the very best among New Zealand’s community of Kiwi innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders making an impact on the world stage.

“This year’s recipients are diverse in their fields of influence and expertise, but they share a commitment to excellence which helps to define New Zealand’s global reputation – and made a vast contribution to the country’s social, cultural, scientific and economic development. We’re delighted to acknowledge and celebrate their achievements,” says Donaldson.

Mitchell Pham, 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, is being recognised for his contribution to the technology sector in New Zealand and NZ-Asia relations.

Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, 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.

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

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

Dr Delwyn Moller, Director of Research at the Centre for Space Science Technology (Alexandra, NZ) and previously a NASA and Jet Propulsion Lab scientist, 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.

And finally, Jennifer Flay, 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.

Established in 2003, the Awards provide a platform that recognises global success, celebrating Kiwis who are helping to define New Zealand’s international reputation.

Each World Class New Zealand Award winner will receive a Tall Poppy statuette, designed by Weta Workshop co-founder and 2009 Supreme Award winner Sir Richard Taylor.

For more information about the recipients, see below:

Peter Beck

  1. Founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, an orbital launch company revolutionising access to space for small satellites
  2. Peter led a team of engineers to develop the ?TEA-1 rocket in 2009, a launch that saw Rocket Lab become the first private company in the Southern Hemisphere to reach space
  3. 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
  4. Oversaw the development of the first and only private orbital launch range on the globe, located on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula
  5. First successful orbital launch completed in January 2018

Mark Sagar

  1. 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
  2. CEO/co-founder of Soul Machines which aims to humanise artificial intelligence
  3. Led the development of virtual infant BabyX, brought to life by computational models of the brain and nervous system, which has gained worldwide attention for its pioneering biologically based approach to artificial intelligence
  4. Director of the Laboratory for Animate Technologies at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute
  5. Mark has a Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of Auckland
  6. Was a post-doctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  7. His pioneering work in computer-generated faces was awarded Scientific and Engineering Oscars in 2010 and 2011

Cliff Curtis

  1. Four-time NZ Film and Television award-winning actor
  2. Formed Maori film production company Whenua Films with cousin Ainsley Gardiner – 2004: The pair produced Taika Waititi’s WWII short film Tama T? (2005), debut feature, geek comedy Eagle vs Shark (2007), and Boy (2010)
  3. Founded Arama Pictures (2013): which has produced feature The Dark Horse and short film Ahi Ka, and television series This is Piki
  4. Has over 50 credits to date for producing and acting in TV, theatre and film
  5. Starred in movies alongside Hollywood legends such as Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Hopkins and George Clooney
  6. Starred in AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead alongside Kim Dickens
  7. A cast member of the four Avatar sequels written and directed by James Cameron which are due for release starting in 2020

Dr Delwyn Moller

  1. Director of Research and the Centre for Space Science Technology, Alexandra, NZ
  2. Principal Systems Engineer at Remote Sensing Solutions, Inc. (RSS)
  3. Joined NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) where she worked on radar technology, primarily with a focus on Earth science
  4. 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
  5. Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  6. M.E degree (Distinction) and B.E. degree (Honors) from the University of Auckland

Mitchell Pham

  1. Director of the Augen Software Group in New Zealand and Vietnam
  2. Co-founder of the Kiwi Connection Tech Hub – a platform for NZ technology businesses to accelerate presence & engagement in South East Asia
  3. Recognised as an Asia 21 Fellow by the Asia Society, and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum
  4. Chair of the NZ Technology Industry Association (NZTech)
  5. Chair of the NZ Financial Innovation & Technology Association (FinTechNZ)
  6. Co-founder of the NZ Health IT Cluster (NZHIT)
  7. Co-founder of the Global InsurTech Alliance (GITA)
  8. Advisor at the Asia New Zealand Foundation
  9. New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) Beachheads Advisor in technology business for South East Asia
  10. Trustee of the Auckland Refugee Family Trust (ARFT), and of the Foundation for Social Responsibility NZ (FOStR-NZ)
  11. Awarded Asia 21 Fellow by the Asia Society
  12. Awarded Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum (WEF)
  13. Member of the Ethnic People in Commerce (EPICNZ) network, NZ Asian Leaders (NZAL) forum, and NZ Superdiversity Council
  14. Member of the Strategic Alliance Vietnamese Ventures International (SAVVi) network, and an executive of the global Vietnamese diaspora business network (BAOOV)

Jennifer Flay

  1. General Director of FIAC, 2010 – present
  2. Artistic Director of FIAC, 2003 – 2010
  3. Opened Galerie Jennifer Flay, 1990 – 2003
  4. 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.
  5. Author of authoritative publication: Christian Boltanski, Catalogue – Books, Printed Matter, Ephemera – 1966-1991
  6. Member of the Board of Administrators of the Palais de Tokyo art centre (Paris) and the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Beaux Arts (National School of Arts, Paris)
  7. Member of the artistic and scientific council of the Manufacture de Sevres (Paris)

About Kea:

Kea is New Zealand’s global network. Kea connects a community of over half a million New Zealanders with each other and provides access to global job opportunities, events and business growth support. Kea connects Kiwis with one another and with home.

It provides businesses and individuals with access to network members who willingly lend their influence, expertise and international connections to help New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses succeed on the world stage.

New Zealand businesses can access this expert assistance, advice, and global insight through Kea Connect.

Each year, Kea celebrates high-achieving Kiwis at the World Class New Zealand Awards held in Auckland..

For further information, or to arrange an interview with the winners, please contact:

Alex Harman
Senior PR Consultant – One Plus One Communications
09 951 3946 | 021 044 5226

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