The 2021 Judging Panel is drawn from across the arts, sports, sponsorship and business sectors, this year’s panel offers a wealth of event expertise at the highest level along with an understanding of how events contribute to the bigger picture of NZ Inc.

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Amy McNicol

Director of Global Sponsorship, AIG

Amy McNicol is a sponsorship and marketing specialist. Amy’s work as Director of Global Sponsorship at AIG saw her awarded the NZEA Best Event Sponsorship Professional in 2018. Sport is a central theme of Amy’s career having spent several years working at Manchester United, as well as time at New Zealand Cricket, Leeds Rugby, Leeds United and Toyota and Lexus negotiating rights deals and activating multimillion-dollar global partnerships.


Andrea Nelson


Andrea is CEO of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup, the premier event in women’s cricket due be hosted in New Zealand in 2022. Andrea brings significant major event experience to her role, having previously been GM New Zealand for the Rugby League World Cup 2017, and Director of Marketing and Communications for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, and having held senior Communications roles with London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Andrew OLoughlin

Andrew O'Loughlin

Leading advisor, designer, mentor

Andrew O’Loughlin is a Melbourne based Event Advisor, Author, Trainer and co-host of ‘The Event Show’ podcast. Having started his career in Queenstown 25 years ago, Andrew spent the last decade leading international event agency Limelight Sports. With experiences across major events, community festivals, corporate, brand, sport and government related campaigns, Andrew is now leading and facilitating shared learning experiences. Andrew’s ‘Experience Design Playbook’ process uses ‘Experience Design’ methods, to create more influential events, and influential event people.

Arthur Klap

Arthur Klap, MNZM

Managing Director, Sports Impact Ltd

Arthur is recognised as one of New Zealand’s leaders in sports governance, sports management, major events and event tourism. He has a proven track record of delivering major international events and, since 1994, has delivered twelve World Championships, across eight sports, and twenty three World Cups. Arthur was a founding Board member of the NZ Events Association. In 2018 Arthur stepped down as CEO of the Winter Games NZ and is now focused on governance and advisory work in sport and tourism.

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David Inns

Chief Executive, Auckland Arts Festival

David Inns has been Chief Executive of the Auckland Arts Festival since March 2009. He has led the Festival team to deliver ten festivals since 2011, substantially increasing attendance and box office income and playing a key role in establishing the Festival as a major annual multi-arts event in Auckland.

David has 30 years of experience in senior arts management and production roles internationally and within New Zealand including: Chief Executive – New Zealand International Arts Festival Trust 2002-2009, Technical Director – WOMAD NZ 2003 - 2007, Executive Director – Taranaki Arts Festival, and Technical Director – Assembly Theatre, Edinburgh Festival. David led Auckland Festival Trust’s delivery of Auckland’s Queens Wharf entertainment and events programme during Rugby World Cup 2011, World Masters Games 2016 and British Lions Tour 2017.

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Emily Travers

GM Commercial Projects, Partnerships and Events, NZME

As NZME’s GM Commercial Projects, Partnerships and Events, Emily is responsible for the design, negotiation, leverage and management of strategic partnerships for New Zealand’s leading media brands, as well as leading NZME’s events business and project management team. Prior to joining the media industry, Emily held senior roles in a broad range of organisations, from not-for-profits to corporates and sporting organisations, including IAG New Zealand, Queenstown Events Centre, Canterbury Cricket, and Auckland Rugby/Blues. Emily’s extensive knowledge of the sports/events sector ensures she is known for delivering best-of-breed results across the board – from event marketing, sponsorship, and communications, to finance and operations.

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James McGlinn

CEO, Eventfinda

James is an experienced entrepreneur and technologist with a passion for events and live entertainment. He co-founded Eventfinda in 2006, leading the company to become New Zealand’s largest event discovery platform and fastest-growing ticketing services company.

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Jane Blackmore

Founder & Director, Brand Magic

Jane Blackmore is Founder & Director of Brand Magic, a Consumer Experience, Marketing & Design Agency. As a pioneer of experiential events, over the past 20+ years Jane has created and delivered multiple high-profile, multi-discipline, experience based marketing, sponsorship, design and communication solutions for global and NZ household brands. With a career spanning across sport, arts, festival, FMCG, corporate, cross-cultural and community, Jane also enjoys the opportunity to contribute to a variety of commercial and not-for-profit organisations in a governance capacity.

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Kane Silcock

Marketing and Sponsorship specialist

Kane Silcock has over 20 years experience working for a number of Global business in Marketing and Sponsorship. In 2008 Kane launched LG to the New Zealand market and within 3 years saw it become one of our top Consumer electronic brands. He has also spent 7 years supporting Fonterra as their Global Sponsorship Manager working across the Fonterra brand and all their sub brands, creating the global policies and frameworks, to ensure properties are carefully selected, well leveraged and deliver a commercial return. Kane volunteers time to the European Sponsorship Association, NZEA mentorship programme and a few small businesses to help improve the sponsorship and events industry.

Kathy Cunningham

Kathy Cunningham

Director, Empire PR

Kathy Cunningham, founder of Empire PR, has been creating and promoting successful events for 30 years. She is passionate about the impact events have and is currently Chair of Warrior Spirit Aotearoa Trust. Events include NZ’s first carbon-neutral event (The Auckland Seafood Festival), NZEA Best Partnership (Robert Harris and Anchor Milk for the NZ Barista Awards), a Global Gold MAC – Marketing Achievement in Creativity (IMAX premiere of ‘Everest’), and a Cannes Bronze Lion (Project Managing Star Alliance partnership with APEC).

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Lauren Vosper

GM PR, Social & Partnerships, Tourism New Zealand

Lauren has over 16 years global experience as a creative, innovative and award-winning brand and marketing communications professional.

A writer at heart, Lauren has a strong track record of delivering highly successful ‘cut-through’ content for multiple high-profile global brands including Tourism New Zealand, adidas, MINI, Telstra, Volkswagen, icebreaker, Air New Zealand, ANZ and Vodafone using the power of owned & earned content, events and advocacy.

As a brave and bold, results-driven communicator with a proven ability to make headlines, crash social media feeds and create powerful conversation, she’s been the champion and leader of multiple high-impact and award-winning projects around the world, including #getNZonthemap for Tourism New Zealand featuring NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Rhys Darby.

With equal parts agency and in-house experience, Lauren has lived and worked around the world including UK, Europe, North America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand with agency stints including DDB, iris Worldwide, BBDO and TBWA.

Mandy Deans

Mandy Deans BA, Grad.Dip.Econ.Dev.

Event Manager, Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow

Warbirds Over Wanaka’s International Airshow 2022 will be Mandy’s 14th year with the Charitable Community Trust. With an economic impact of around $20 million each Airshow the event continues to grow and attracts 55,000 people over the three days. Mandy gained her private pilot’s licence many years ago and is still passionate about aviation. With a background mainly in management of Not-for-Profits and business development eg CEO of Business Porirua (the City’s Economic Development Agency and Chamber of Commerce); and marketing e.g. National Marketing Manager of Parents Centres NZ Inc., Mandy continues to work with community groups and businesses in Wanaka.

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Michelle Campbell

Legal Counsel, New Zealand Rugby

Michelle has been working within the sports industry for over 14 years. A lawyer by trade, she has been involved in both a legal and non-legal capacity across a number of different sporting organisations and events. In addition to inhouse legal roles at New Zealand Rugby, Rugby World Cup 2011 and Australian Rugby, Michelle has been involved in non-legal roles with a wide variety of other sports and events including New Zealand Golf Open, FIFA U20 World Cup, ITU World Triathlon Auckland, Queenstown International Marathon, Pioneer Mountain Bike Stage Race, Tri Taranaki Festival, Motatapu, Hawkes Bay Marathon and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

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Mike Keech

Impact Sponsorship, Managing Director

Mike is an Entrepreneur with a marketing foundation and commercial lense. A strategic thinker, ideator and multi-industry leader focused on quality-over-quantity, people and his high-quality valued connections.. Mike is a sponsorship advisor with a career spanning more than 25 years, he leads a boutique Sponsorship Agency HQ in Auckland that operates globally with capability in the US, UK Europe, India, ASEA and China. Mike is also the Head of Fundraising, Marketing and Partnerships for Make-A-Wish New Zealand

Returning for his 4th year as a Judge for the NZEA New Zealand Event Awards, Mike also judges at SPIA ASIA and for the European Sponsorship Association. He is a founding advisor for the Asian Sports and Events Association, Board Member of Make-A-Wish Pacific and co-founded the Sponsorship Professionals Group - New Zealand | APAC, which now has over 310+ members globally. He also mentors several c-suite and sponsorship professionals locally and globally

Mike Wootton

Mike Wootton

Founder/CEO, www.sponsorshippantry.com and mikewootton.co

Mike Wootton was named the inaugural winner of the NZ Sponsorship Professional of the Year Award in 2017. He has worked for leading brands such as ASB and AMP managing a number of prominent sponsorships. He has also worked on some of the world’s largest sporting events through the likes of The Winter Olympics and Rugby World Cup. Having been at the forefront of best practice sponsorship and events marketing in both New Zealand and abroad, Mike has been nominated for a number of New Zealand’s top marketing awards. Mike now focusses on training sponsorship professionals as well as running a digital marketing agency.

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Mildie Meyer-Els

Managing Director, Me & YOU Consulting Ltd

Mildie Meyer-Els has been working in the partnership, sponsorship and event space for more than two decades. Some of the highlights of her career involve working on various successful fundraising campaigns for the Starship Foundation, World Masters Games 2017, the ASB Classic, and the Auckland Lantern Festival. She now runs her own consulting business, m.e & YOU Consulting, to help more companies do better with their sponsorships and customer experience offerings. She has worked for corporates (big and small), charities, other not-for-profits and with rights-holders in sports, culture and the charitable space. She always puts people at the heart of everything she days, finding a connection with people, is the most important part of any interaction your brand/business can have.

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Nick Sautner

Chief Executive, Eden Park

Nick crossed the Tasman and joined the Eden Park team in June 2016. His 20 years’ experience has included roles at Colonial Stadium, Telstra Dome, Etihad Stadium, Domain Stadium and West Australian Football Commission. Throughout his career, Nick has remained committed to enhancing business acumen as well as acquiring further technical skills and knowledge. Outside of work, Nick played 260 VFL matches and won 5 premierships with Sandringham and 2 VAFA premierships with Wesley Collegians.

In 2019 Nick was proud to receive the Executive of the Year award at The Stadium Business Summit, and Venue Executive of the Year and Supreme Venue Person of the Year at the EVANZ Awards. He proudly became a Certified Venue Executive in 2020 with IAVM.

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Reuben Levermore

Head of Tourism and Regional Affairs, Air New Zealand

Reuben Levermore is Head of Tourism and Regional Affairs at Air New Zealand.  Prior to joining Air New Zealand, Reuben was Director of Communications at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade and served as New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines and as Ambassador to Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR. He has also worked in international trade negotiations, and as a financial markets advocate in the City of London.

Shane Vuletich

Shane Vuletich

Managing Director, Fresh Info

Shane Vuletich is the Managing Director of Fresh Info, New Zealand’s leading provider of event research and evaluation services. He has 20 years’ experience building measurement frameworks and using them to assess the impacts of major events. He is an expert in both pre and post-event evaluation, and has measured the impacts of more than 500 hundred events over the past decade.

Stephen Wainwright

Stephen Wainwright

CEO, Creative New Zealand

2021 will be the eighth year Stephen has committed to the judging panel and this consistency of observing and reviewing cultural projects and events is critical to the awards success. His role as CEO of Creative NZ has exposed him to a myriad of arts events and understanding the importance art has to our society. Established through an act of Parliament in the 1960s as the Queen Elizabeth 11 Arts Council, Creative New Zealand is Crown’s national agency for the development of the arts and these awards capture a wide range of events that deliver social, cultural and economic outcomes for communities across Aotearoa.