NZ Society UK Charity Ball raises £13,500 for charitable fund

February has seen the NZ Society UK host its annual Waitangi Charity Ball at The Dorchester on London’s Park Lane. It was a spectacular evening of celebrating New Zealand in England – our culture, our cuisine, and our people.


Always considered one of the most glittering events of the social calendar, 2014 was no exception. This year the ball raised £13,470 for the Society’s charitable fund, via a silent auction and raffle. In 2013 grants were given to London-based New Zealand artist Mandii Pope, Shakespeare’s Globe Centre of New Zealand, composer Warwick Blair, PhD student Jaim Sutton, dancer and choreographer Corey Baker, Shaky Isles Theatre, and New Zealand Opera singer Nicole Evans – to name but a few. Such a successful evening of fundraising will enable the NZ Society to continue to support an even greater number of worthy NZ/UK related causes.

The event was attended by a wide variety of people from and friends of the New Zealand community, and showcased the diversity of New Zealand not only at home, but also here in England. A number of distinguished guests and VIPs were also in attendance, including H.E. the Rt Hon Sir Lockwood Smith, High Commissioner of New Zealand to the United Kingdom.

Guests were greeted with a New Zealand sparkling wine reception, followed by a powhiri by London Maori Club, Ngati Ranana. Hilary Timmins saw us through the evening as MC, whilst an incredible New Zealand-themed three-course dinner was served, along with a selection of New Zealand wines.

Air Marshal John Thompson was this year’s guest speaker, and delivered an incredibly moving and sombre, yet heart-warming speech on life as a New Zealander in the Forces, as well as the importance of this year marking the centenary of the First World War.

The NZ Society also had the pleasure of announcing Eric Tracey as the UK New Zealander of the Year 2014. The annual award, sponsored by Air New Zealand, celebrates the outstanding contribution that either a New Zealander or British citizen has made in promoting New Zealand or New Zealanders in the United Kingdom. President of the Society, Tania Bearsley, commented, “All three finalists are great ambassadors of New Zealand in the United Kingdom, and have each contributed greatly to our community and to their individual causes, but Eric Tracey stood out this year with his ongoing personal commitment in supporting New Zealanders both in the UK and in New Zealand.” Congratulations were also extended to finalists Will Katene and Dr. Gerri Kimber.

Barrie Neilson was also awarded the New Zealand Society Lifetime Achievement Award, in acknowledgement of his incredible contribution to the New Zealand community here in the United Kingdom.

Funk City Band concluded the evening with a party that saw us all dancing in to the early hours of the morning.

It was an incredible and memorable night, and one that not only the NZ Society but all New Zealanders in general should be proud of. The evening showcased everything that makes Aotearoa so incredibly special.

The event would not have been possible without the generous support of its sponsors, many of who have supported the NZ Society for a number of years: