Creator of Wearable Art event recognised with Air NZ chief Luxon and more top achievers on big night.

Twenty-seven years ago, Dame Suzie Moncrieff hosted the first World of Wearable Art show, initially to promote a Nelson gallery - to a small crowd and on a tight budget.

Today, the show is a highlight of New Zealand's arts scene and regularly has more than 50,000 guests each season in Wellington where it is now held.

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It is Dame Suzie's passion and dedication to the show that has seen her presented with the Deloitte Top 200 visionary leader award for 2015. She had no idea she was up for an award, but was thrilled to get it.

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Dame Suzie said watching the show continue to grow was her proudest achievement.

Dame Suzie Moncrieff (left) won the visionary leader award for the World of Wearable Art.
Dame Suzie Moncrieff (left) won the visionary leader award for the World of Wearable Art.

This year's awards were presented at a black tie event at Vector Arena last night, where Air New Zealand's Christopher Luxon was named executive of the year. EBOS Group won the company of the year award.

Last year, Air New Zealand was named company of the year and its chairman Tony Carter won chairperson of the year.

This year that award went to Joan Withers for her roles at Mighty River Power and TVNZ.

Join Holly Ryan from the New Zealand Herald on the Deloitte Top 200 awards night red carpet as she interviews the leaders of NZ business.

Mr Luxon took over as chief executive of Air New Zealand in 2012. Under his leadership the company has expanded its long-haul flight numbers, pulled out of loss-making routes and dominated the domestic market. The airline has also cut costs and added more fuel efficient aircraft, giving it more pricing flexibility.

The company has recorded two consecutive years of record annual profit - this year reaching $327 million, something the judges attributed to Mr Luxon's leadership.

Air New Zealand celebrated a further win with Robert McDonald named chief financial officer of the year. The judges said it was a category "full of extraordinary candidates".

The integration of a major Australian acquisition was one of the factors in EBOS Group securing the company of the year award, after the healthcare distributor was runner up for the category three times in ten years.

Around 1000 people attended the event, hosted by NZME Events in partnership with Deloitte. NZME publishes the Herald.

NZME chief executive Jane Hastings said the firm was thrilled to partner with the Deloitte Top 200 Awards in celebrating business excellence in New Zealand.

"When you reflect on not only the winners but also the nominees, it is the diversity of sectors in which New Zealand businesses excel, at world class level, which is impressive," Ms Hastings said. "Congratulations to you all; New Zealand's economic future is in great hands."

Rob Hewett from Silver Fern Farms with Brigetta Anselmi-Hewett. Photo / Michael Craig
Rob Hewett from Silver Fern Farms with Brigetta Anselmi-Hewett. Photo / Michael Craig

NZ Super Fund won the excellence in governance award and Tourism Holdings the best growth strategy award. Most improved performance went to Refining NZ and the diversity leadership award to Westpac.

The young executive of the year award went to Craig West, northern general manager at infrastructure business Downer New Zealand.

"Craig showed a strength of character and demonstrated Downer's philosophy of 'humbly smart'," said judge Fran O'Sullivan, NZME's editorial director for business.

"We were incredibly impressed with Craig's mana, personal ethos, integrity, drive and level of achievement he has made."

Deloitte chief executive Thomas Pippos congratulated all of the Top 200 winners, saying he continued to be impressed with the level of leadership, vision and resilience in New Zealand's largest organisations.

"Over the 26 years of the Deloitte Top 200, perhaps the most notable trait of some of our largest companies has been their resilience and ability to adapt and reinvent themselves to stay ahead of the competition," Mr Pippos said. "In many respects this flows from the skills of empowered and talented leaders working with their boards and shareholders - many of which are recognised as part of the Top 200 awards.

"Given that our Top 200 organisations remain the backbone of New Zealand's economy, this is a highly desirable trait that is worth celebrating."

The Deloitte Top 200 Awards, established in 1989, are held annually to celebrate the top business leaders and companies across New Zealand's business sector.

The awards coincide with the publication of detailed information about the country's biggest 200 companies.

Simon Moutter, Spark managing director, and partner Sophie Moutter. Photo / Michael Craig
Simon Moutter, Spark managing director, and partner Sophie Moutter. Photo / Michael Craig