Tesla co-founder Ian Wright, AgResearch's Phil Rolston and Sir Rob Fenwick, founding director of Living Earth were among those recognised last night as world-class New Zealanders at this year's Kea World Class New Zealand Gala Dinner.

Kea is an organisation that connects Kiwis to and around the world.

Judging panel chair Phil Veal said the awards showcased the very best talent.

"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," Veal said.


Businessman Sir Rob Fenwick told judges that one lesson he had learnt was to not be afraid to make ambitious goals. Phil Rolston said he had learnt that you can't build a business without first building a relationship.

"If your goal is to make money quickly and the client perceives that you are chasing money and not chasing a long-term business relationship that is [a] "win-win" for both parties then your China/Asian success will be limited in scope and success," Rolston said.

Lord of the Rings film maker Sir Peter Jackson and screenwriter Lady Fran Walsh were overall supreme winners of the night, marking the first time the top honour was held by joint recipients.

"Fran and Peter are two of New Zealand's biggest household names, both locally and around the globe. 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," said Kea New Zealand chief executive Craig Donaldson.

"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."

Choreographer Paris Goebel was recognised for her contribution to the dance industry, along with entrepreneur Privahini Bradoo and chef Robert Oliver.

The winners

• Sir Peter Jackson
• Lady Fran Walsh
• Lady Pippa Blake
• Dr Privahini Bradoo
• Parris Goebel
• Phil Rolston
• Ian Wright
• Robert Oliver
• Sir Rob Fenwick