News and Updates

MEDIA RELEASE: Finalists Announced for the 2021 NZ Events Association New Zealand Event Awards

20 July 2021

Entries into the 2021 NZ Events Association NZ Event Awards closed in June with an all-time record of 108 entries.

Ségolène de Fontenay, General Manager of the NZ Events Association (NZEA), says the record numbers this year are remarkable given the impacts of COVID-19 during the qualifying period.

“Traditionally, the purpose of the awards has been to recognise excellence, promote best practice and creativity, raise awareness of the events sector and celebrate the contribution of the industry,” says de Fontenay. “But this year we also needed to recognise the resilience, flexibility and responsiveness of the industry under the trying circumstances and uncertainty of the global COVID-19 pandemic.”

Of the five new categories introduced this year, de Fontenay says the ‘Best COVID Response for an Event 2021’ category proved the most popular, representing over almost a quarter of all entries. “The Awards campaign has grown year on year for the past three years, but we’re blown away by how many have entered this year, despite the difficulties they’ve faced.”

The 2021 Awards welcomed entries for events that took place between 2 September 2019 and 5 April 2021 (a period of 19 months). The winners will be announced at the Gala Evening at the Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre in Hastings on Thursday, 30 September. Host Region Partner Hawke’s Bay is hosting the Gala Evening, and it promises to be a great night out to celebrate excellence, innovation, resilience and evolution in New Zealand’s world-class events industry.

Hastings District Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says it is an honour to host the industry at Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre.

“Toitoi is the perfect setting to host an evening that celebrates the best of the best, and looks ahead to the bright future of events in New Zealand,” says Mayor Hazlehurst.

“We are proud to be hosting the awards at a time when the industry is celebrating those who have got them through what have been very challenging times. Events are a crucial part of any community, particularly during times when morale needs to be lifted. We are pleased to be welcoming those who contribute so much to the industry and their communities to Toitoi,” she says.

The Awards benefit the New Zealand events industry in many ways. It adds credibility and status, showcases industry best practises, inspires and motivates others, and encourages continuous development, says de Fontenay.

“We do this by judging events on the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’, and we love hearing the inspiring stories of resilience from our sector.” Due to the record number of entries, the judging panel was expanded slightly this year and de Fontenay says this meant the panel of 20 judges was even more representative of the industry.

“The judges were particularly impressed with the quality of entrants this year and felt that once applicants had again raised the bar in creativity, innovation, adaptability, professionalism and sustainability. “One of the judges commented that the Awards will, in some ways, be a celebration of success in the face of adversity,” adds de Fontenay. “Not all the entries were for events that took place after March 2020 but for those that did, it required a particular combination of courage and dexterity.”

The 2021 NZEA NZ Awards campaign is proudly supported by ‘Hawke’s Bay’ as Host Region Partner, and Christchurch NZ, Kennedy Park Resort Napier, Red Badge Security, Fresh Info, Trinity Hill New Zealand and Big Barrel as Category Sponsors.

To learn more about the Awards, visit the NZEA NZ Event Awards website.

National Events Conference: Eventing the Future

This year’s NZEA NZ Event Awards Gala Evening is particularly special because it is being combined with the National Events Conference, ‘Eventing the Future’, to be held at the Napier War Memorial Centre. The Gala Evening will function as the official Conference Dinner after Day 1 on Thursday, 30 September.

Napier’s Deputy Mayor Annette Brosnan says the Napier War Memorial Centre is a first-class venue, right in the heart of the city.

“We are lucky to be able to host delegates in a purpose-built facility with stunning views from Mahia right down to Cape Kidnappers, as well as being very close to busy bars, cafes, award-winning restaurants and a variety of quality accommodation options,” says Deputy Mayor Brosnan. “Events and hospitality are something Napier excels at so we are well placed to host those working in the industry.”

Presenting ‘Evolution’ as its theme, this is the first year the conference has been held under NZEA management, having taken over the long-running event after the last conference. The Welcome Function will take place on Wednesday, 29 September, and the two jam-packed Conference days will be held on Thursday, 30 September and Friday, 1 October. Delegates will enjoy refreshments provided during breaks, along with the opportunity to network.

The conference will be ably MC’d by one of New Zealand’s most experienced broadcasters, Mel Homer. Keynote speakers set to inform and entertain are EventMB’s Editor-in-Chief Miguel Neves, Head of New Zealand Event and Commercial Director for SailGP Karl Budge, CEO of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Andrea Nelson, trainer and speaker Ani Wilson, Hon Stuart Nash Minister for Economic and Regional Development, Tourism Minister, Forestry Minister and Minister for Small Business, manager of New Zealand Major Events within MBIE Susan Sawbridge, co-owner and CEO of private promoter Duco Events Rachael Carroll, and clinical psychologist, author and documentary maker Nigel Latta.

2021 NZ Events Association Scholarship: Recipient to be named

One of the highlights of the conference will be the announcement of the 2021 NZEA Scholarship recipient. The scholarship aims to celebrate the achievements and potential of a ‘new starter’ event professional and reward them with a scholarship to attend, observe, learn and develop skills at the 2021 Eventing the Future Conference.

de Fontenay says the scholarship was introduced to emphasise the importance of supporting and investing in the new generation of event professionals. “We wanted to highlight the importance of professional development and capability building in the industry and promote the events industry as a contender for a professional career.”

Eventing the Future 2021 is proudly supported by partners Hawke’s Bay Region, New Zealand Major Events and Sport New Zealand, and sponsors Creative New Zealand, Essential Talent and EventsAir.


➢ Individual Awards

Best Emerging Event Professional 2021 - Sponsored by ChristchurchNZ

  • Cuillan Hearty
  • Laurence Carey
  • Mike McMinn
  • Steph Murray

Best Established Event Professional 2021

  • Jodie Gill
  • Michelle Stevens
  • Noddy (Graeme) Watts
  • Simon Carter
  • Valentina Paladini

Best Event Sponsorship Professional 2021

  • Jonathan Rea
  • Laurence Carey
  • Matt Davy

➢ Excellence Awards

Best Arts or Cultural Event 2021

  • CupaDupa 2021, CubaDupa - Creative Capital Arts Trust
  • Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2021
  • Kitchen Takeover – Taiao: Food of the Gods

Best Business Event 2021 - Sponsored by ChristchurchNZ

  • Digitally Speaking, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise
  • Te Hāpai Hāpori | Spirit of Service Awards, Public Service Commission Te Kawa Mataaho
  • Toyota Hospitality Experience – 36th America’s Cup 2021, PPG Events

Best Community or Not-for-Profit Event 2021- Sponsored by Kennedy Park

  • Balloons over Waikato
  • CupaDupa, Creative Capital Arts Trust
  • Ending HIV Big Gay Out 2021, Because Creative Experiences
  • Oxfam Trailwalker 2021, Oxfam Aotearoa
  • Wanaka A & P Show
  • Wheels at Wanaka

Best COVID-19 Response for an Event 2021 - Sponsored by ChristchurchNZ

  • Auckland Craft Beer & Food Festival, Otago University Students Association
  • Auckland Diwali Festival 2020, Auckland Unlimited
  • Boma COVID-19 Virtual Summit, Boma New Zealand
  • Doc Edge Film Festival
  • Fieldays Online, New Zealand National Fieldays Society Inc
  • Ports of Auckland Round the Bays, Stuff
  • Rhythm and Vines
  • uLearn20, CORE Education
  • Water New Zealand Conference and Expo 2020, Water New Zealand and Avenues Event Management

Best Event Marketing 2021

  • ASB for Borrow the All Blacks + Eden Park
  • ASB for The ASB Sustainball – ASB Classic 2020
  • Auckland Unlimited for Summernova Festival Series
  • Rhythm & Vines
  • Wanaka A & P Show

Best Lifestyle Event 2021 - Sponsored by Big Barrell

  • Dunedin Craft Beer & Food Festival, Otago University Students Association
  • Kitchen Takeover - Eat Your Memories
  • Ripe - The Wānaka Wine & Food Festival, Otago Event Planning
  • Wanaka A & P Show

Best Local Government Event 2021

  • Digital Nights: Van Gogh Alive, WellingtonNZ
  • Enchanted Parks Quest – Parks Week, Gore District Council
  • Festival of Cultures, Palmerston North City Council
  • Matariki 2020, Porirua City Council
  • TSB Festival of Lights, New Plymouth District Council

Best Major or Mega Event 2021

Winner to be announced at the 2021 NZ Events Association NZ Event Awards Gala Evening

Best Music Event 2021 - Sponsored by Red Badge

  • Downtown Shakedown, Precision Live
  • Ohakune Mardi Gras, Audiology Touring Ltd
  • Rhythm and Vines
  • Waitomo Glowworm Caves Underground Sounds, Fortis Events and ESP Ventures

Best Sports Event 2021 - Sponsored by Kennedy Park
Winner to be announced at the 2021 NZ Events Association NZ Event Awards Gala Evening

➢ Support Awards

Best Event Creative 2021

  • Wild in Art and Publica for Pop Up Penguins
  • PPG Events for the Toyota Hospitality Experience – 36th America’s Cup 2021

Best Event Use of Technology 2021

  • Monstavision for the 2020 ANZ Premiership
  • Blerter for the Napier Art Deco Festival, The Summer Concert Tour, Challenge Wanaka, Auckland Triathlon Club Duathlon, 36th America's Cup
  • New Plymouth District Council for Oxfam Trailwalker 2021

Best Supplier 2021

Winner to be announced at the 2021 NZ Events Association NZ Event Awards Gala Evening

Best Venue 2021 - Sponsored by Trinity Hill

  • Claudelands Oval for SIX60 Saturdays
  • Haere-roa for NZ Antarctic Science Conference
  • Whanganui War Memorial Centre for 2021 Downer New Zealand Masters Games

Notes to the editor
The NZ Events Association (NZEA), formerly known as New Zealand Association of Event Professionals, was formed fifteen years ago and has over 1,000 members. The Association represents the ever-increasing breadth of the New Zealand events industry across leisure and business events. Its purpose is to advocate all aspects of events nationally; their economic outcomes and social benefits, and the people who work and volunteer in and around this unique industry in New Zealand.

Media contact: Leandri Smith – The Mail Room 027 365 9003 |