Rotorua's Mark Wilson has been awarded the title of 2016 UK New Zealander of the Year.

The New Zealand Society, based in London, announced the former Rotorua businessman's award at the society's annual Waitangi Day Charity Ball.

He was presented with the award by society president Robyn Allardice-Bourne, High Commissioner for New Zealand Sir Lockwood Smith and Kathryn Robertson of Air New Zealand.

The award recognises the outstanding contribution that a New Zealand or British national has made in promoting the interests of New Zealand or New Zealanders in the United Kingdom.


Mr Wilson is group chief executive of the UK's largest insurance company Aviva.

Ms Allardice-Bourne said Mr Wilson received his award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to leading global discussions on how businesses can create a lasting legacy.

"In particular Mark has led debates on how to mobilise the $300 trillion of capital in the financial markets to achieve the UN's Sustainable Development goals," she said.

"Mark is an outstanding individual, not only in his business endeavours but in his vocal support of several initiatives focused on how business can make a positive and lasting impact on society.

"Rarely, do you find an individual with such passion and energy to make positive change for the benefit of us all."

Mr Wilson was born in Rotorua in 1966 and attended the University of Waikato on an economic scholarship.

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After beginning his career in Rotorua with Watchdog Security, he spent 14 years in Asia, ending as chief executive of Asian insurance giant AIA.

He joined Aviva at the start of 2013 and led the company's £6 billion (NZ$13 billion) acquisition of Friends Life Group in 2015, the largest deal in the UK insurance sector for 15 years.

Aviva is now a UK Top 30 company, operating in 16 countries with 34 million customers.

He accompanied the British Prime Minister David Cameron on a trade mission to Asia in July 2015 and was invited to address the United Nations General Assembly.