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Inaugural Spirit of Mateship Award Presented

26 April 2006

Tourism Australia Presents Inaugural Spirit of Mateship Award to
Steve Freeman and Mark Smith

Tourism Australia presented the inaugural Spirit of Mateship Award to Aussie Mark Smith and Kiwi Steve Freeman at the G'Day New Zealand Australia Week Gala dinner held in Auckland on ANZAC eve.

The pair shared their survival story after being adrift in the South China Sea for 11 days in December last year. Mark and Steve's account of their ordeal eptomised the 'spirit of mateship' with the pair joking that Mark was the brains behind their survival and Steve was the brawn.

Scott Morrison, Tourism Australia Managing Director, presented the award in front of more than 320 VIP guests at the Tourism Australia 'Spirit of Mateship' Gala Dinner.

The event was aptly themed 'Outback in Style' and MCs John Campbell and Carol Hirschfeld took guests on a journey that included a five course meal complemented by Penfolds wines and Crown Lager beer.

Guests were entertained by the Descendance Aboriginal Dance Group performance and up-and-coming Maori Australian singer Nessa Morgan delivered a fantastic rendition of "You've got a friend". This was followed by a light-hearted interview session with Ric Salizzo, Eric Rush and Nick Farr-Jones reminiscing about their on and off-the-field antics.

The 'Spirit of Mateship' Gala Dinner is part of a series of events for Tourism Australia's inaugural G'DAY NZ Australia Week 2006 (23-29 April) that showcase the best Australia has to offer and highlight Australian food and wine, film, arts, fashion and indigenous culture.

Tourism Australia is the backer of G'DAY NZ Australia Week 2006 in recognition of the fact that New Zealand is an important market for the country, not only for tourism, but also trade, investment and political partnerships.

"We're overwhelmed with the response to G'DAY NZ Australia Week so far. Over 3,500 people have directly participated in the events and the feedback has been hugely positive. We've already started to think about ideas for next year's event!" said Vito Anzelmi, Tourism Australia's Regional Manager for New Zealand.

Other events that form part of G'Day New Zealand Australia Week include the Longest Australian Lunch in New Zealand and the United Travel Australian Film Selection. The National Geographic Photographic Exhibition covering Australia's vast landscape will remain open in Wellington until 27 April before opening in Auckland at the Aotea Centre on May 8 for 7 days.

Ticket sales for the Longest Australian Lunch in New Zealand in Auckland's Viaduct are selling fast at Ticketek and over 400 people are expected to participate. Sizzling BBQ platters featuring Aussie king prawns, kangaroo, barramundi and crocodile meat, for the more adventurous, will be available with some premium Lindeman's wine and Crown Lager beer to wash it down.

Movie buffs can also catch Australia on the big screen at the United Travel Australian Film Selection running from Monday 24th to Saturday 29th of April at the Newmarket Rialto cinema in Auckland.

The premier of Lost and Found will also be a part of the United Travel Australian Film Selection with the cast and crew coming over for a star-studded red carpet premier on Sunday 30th of April. Lost and Found is a psychological thriller starring Kiwi-born actress Rebecca Gibney.

For more information on how to get involved visit www.australiaweek.co.nz

ENDS

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