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Address at the Kiwi Expats Association NZ Awards

Address at the Kiwi Expats Association World Class New Zealand Awards

Auckland Town Hall Auckland

10.30 pm

Wednesday, 1 March 2006

Thank you to the Kiwi Expats Association, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and all the other sponsors who have enabled us to celebrate Kiwi talent here tonight.

New Zealand has never been short of high achievers - but we haven't always been good at recognising them.

I like the concept of awarding the stylised tall poppies - because it turns that old syndrome on its head.

In 21st century New Zealand, the message must be that tall poppies are to be treasured - especially those like our winners tonight who've gone the extra mile for New Zealand.

I applaud successful Kiwis - onshore and offshore - who are prepared to make time to support the next generation of high achievers - and our country as a whole.

It's not so long ago that expat Kiwis were almost considered to have let New Zealand down by leaving. Once gone, they were often out of sight and out of mind, except to their families and close friends.

In the 21st century those attitudes had to change - and they are changing.

In today's global economy, our top talent is in demand elsewhere, just as we work to recruit the top talent of other nations - and attract our own back home.

But those who stay offshore can be a huge asset to our country - opening up their networks and contacts to New Zealand-based businesses, researchers, and professionals seeking to expand their global linkages.

I know that many offshore Kiwis are giving generously of their time, knowledge, and expertise to generate business opportunities for Kiwi companies and industries - and they deserve our recognition and thanks.

I want to make special mention tonight of those who serve on the advisory boards of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise's offshore business incubators - the beachheads.

Their in-market skills and networks are making a real difference to Kiwi companies entering new markets.

This matters to the new generation of exporters.

Many of the specialised business fields New Zealanders are succeeding in have a negligible market here in New Zealand.

That means start up companies need to move out to global markets early - and the support they get from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Kiwi Expat networks will be critical to the success of many.

Here in New Zealand, I'm well aware of Kiwis who've taken innovative start up companies all the way to international success - and then been prepared to support and nurture others along the same track including by investing in their companies.

And let's not forget the New Zealand academics and researchers offshore who have long supported new generations of graduates following in their footsteps to become world leaders in their field.

I congratulate all our award winners tonight, both on their achievements and on their willingness to support the next generations of New Zealand achievers.

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