One of New Zealand's longest-serving champions for New Zealand wool, John Dawson, has been awarded the International Wool Trade Cooperation Award.

The award was presented at the 31st Nanjing Wool Market Convention at Qufu in Shandong Province, China.

John Dawson is CEO of New Zealand Wool Services International and Chair of the National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests.

He was one of just six global wool industry leaders to receive the award and the only New Zealander.


Recipients were all influential leaders who have played a significant role in aiding relations between the Chinese wool industry and the Western world.

"No one from New Zealand has received this award before now, so I see it as a wonderful accolade for our wool sector," said Dawson.

The award also recognised Dawson's long association with the Chinese wool industry.

"I made my first wool-related trip to China 1979 as a trainee cadet. Since then I've been back three or four times a year to facilitate bi-lateral trade between China and New Zealand and sell hundreds of thousands of tonnes of New Zealand wool.

"I've watched China turn into a global wool powerhouse. I'm proud to have played a part in fostering relations between our countries and helping to position the New Zealand wool industry as a beneficiary of China's growth."

In the 2018/19 season New Zealand exported 43,443 clean tonnes of wool to China – 48 per cent of its total wool exports.

Dawson's award came hard on the heels of Philippa Wright being made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the wool industry and sustainability.

Amongst other contributions, Wright's award acknowledged her active role in the Campaign for Wool, a global initiative highlighting wool's eco-friendly and durable properties.


After graduating from Lincoln University in 1978, Dawson entered the wool industry as a trainee cadet for Mair & Company.

In 1989, he was appointed as a director of Mairwool Ltd.

Dawson moved to his current employer New Zealand Wool Services International (NZWSI) when it was established in 1992.

Alongside other key staff, Dawson has been an important figure in growing NZWSI from a start up to one of New Zealand's largest wool exporters.

He was appointed CEO of NZWSI in 2015.

Dawson is also the Chairman of the National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests, a position he has held since 2018.

Dawson has been visiting China selling wool and building bi-lateral relations between China and NZ for 40 years.