14 Dec 2023

Brent Spillane, Shane Harmon, Eden Park Trust and Jim Beam Homegrown pick up Awards at NZEA 2023

by ] Jenny Barrett

Success in face of adversity acknowledged across the board

Last month’s New Zealand Events Association’s (NZEA) annual Event Awards were celebrated at a Gala Dinner in Ōtautahi Christchurch with over 350 people from the events community coming together to celebrate success, including major players from the entertainment technology sectors. Elaine Linnell, NZEA’s General Manager said the winners of each category stood out for various reasons, but for many, it was a case of overcoming adversity in significant and very effective ways.

The winner of Outstanding Contribution to Business Events was Brent Spillane of XPO Exhibitions who fought tirelessly on behalf of the industry to successfully avert the loss of the Auckland Showgrounds, New Zealand’s largest purpose-built venue for events, concerts and exhibitions. The judges acknowledged Brent’s recognition of the grave repercussions of losing such a crucial venue and reflected that this monumental achievement stood out as one of his most significant contributions to the events industry.


The winner of the Best Music Event 2023, The Eden Park Trust also had a huge mountain to climb, hosting back-to-back Ed Sheeran concerts in February at Eden Park just 12 days after torrential rain and a cyclone hammered Auckland and the stadium itself. The team was thoroughly congratulated for getting the venue fit for purpose in time for the concerts, as well as supporting the struggling Auckland community in the wake of the devastation. Elaine commented, “It was ‘all hands on deck’ as the core Eden Park team came in two weekends in a row to tackle the flood damage, wading through water to rescue furniture, unblocking drains and carrying waterlogged pieces of turf across the field. After long days slogging away in the stadium, the team returned to their desks in the evening to catch up on emails, send out tickets and coordinate guest lists. This mammoth effort resulted in overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees of the concerts.”

Shane Harmon, CEO of Wellington’s Sky Stadium, was crowned winner of the Outstanding Contribution to the Industry category for 2023, “Shane’s leadership, innovation, and unwavering commitment have set a standard for stadiums and venues nationally,” said Linnell. “In his 20-year career, Shane has made a huge impact on the Wellington and national events scene. He has fostered strong and enduring relationships with sports and major promoters and has brought world-class events to the city. Shane has overseen major renovation projects, transforming Sky Stadium into a modern, state-of-the-art facility. Shane’s tenure is now ending and he is to be congratulated for taking Sky Stadium through a remarkable era.”

Best Event Innovation 2023 went to Jim Beam Homegrown, Homegrown Events Limited, impressing judges with their use of cutting-edge drone surveillance technology integrated with the Blerter Event Delivery Platform to streamline security, crowd control and manage the safety of all concert goers. Judges were impressed by Homegrown’s willingness to leverage new technology to further their commitment to excellence in delivery and safety.


Linnell concluded, “We extend our heartiest congratulations to all our deserving winners who have managed to survive adversity and come out thriving and still smiling.”

2023 Winners:

Best Established Event Professional 2023 Sponsored by Celebrity Speakers

Simon Carter

Best Emerging Event Professional 2023 Sponsored by Sidekicker

Helene Nicholson, Nduro Events

Outstanding Contribution to Business Events 2023, Sponsored by BEIA

Brent Spillane, XPO Exhibitions

Best Arts or Cultural Event 2023, Sponsored by Creative New Zealand

Bread & Circus – World Buskers Festival, Strut & Fret NZ

Best Business Event 2023, Sponsored by ChristchurchNZ

Day One – One New Zealand Launch, Uno Loco

Best Community or Not-for-Profit Event (under 3000) 2023

South Island Masters Games, Carter Consultants

Best Community or Not-for-Profit Event (over 3000) 2023

The Silent Night, Wellington Regional Stadium Trust

Best Lifestyle Event 2023

Flavours of Plenty Festival 2023, Tourism Bay of Plenty

Best Local Government Event 2023

Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings, City Gallery Wellington, part of Experience Wellington AND Flavours of Plenty Festival 2023, Tourism Bay of Plenty

Best Major or Mega Event 2023

Rugby World Cup 2021, New Zealand Rugby

Best Music Event 2023 Sponsored by APRA

Ed Sheeran at Eden Park, The Eden Park Trust

Best Sports Event 2023, Sponsored by Ticketek

Rugby World Cup 2021, New Zealand Rugby

Best Venue, Sponsored by EVANZ

Northland Events Centre (Semenoff Stadium)

Best Supplier 2023, Sponsored by NZME

PPG Events for PPG Cruise 2022-23

Best Event Innovation 2023

Jim Beam Homegrown, Homegrown Events Limited

Best Event Marketing and Creative 2023, Sponsored by Phantom Billstickers

ON SHOW Spring Campaign ChristchurchNZ

Outstanding Contribution to the Industry 2023, Sponsored by ChristchurchNZ

Shane Harmon

New Zealand’s Favourite Event 2023 Sponsored by Gallagher Insurance

Centuria Taranaki Garden Festival, TAFT – Taranaki Arts Festival Trust


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