12 August 2020

Export Southland Awards Reimagined for 2020

This year’s Southland Export Awards night will have an interesting new twist.

In lieu of the traditional biennial September Export Southland Recognition Awards, which is facilitated by the Southland Chamber of Commerce, the trust felt it was more appropriate to have an evening of recognizing the trials and tribulations of a difficult year, due to Covid-19.

The reimagined HSBC Gala Dinner will be held in November and the Export Southland Trust will introduce a new accolade – The Graham Dick Memorial Trophy in memory of the significant impact the late Graham Dick gave as Trust Chairman over many years. The inaugural recipient will be Peter Beck aka ‘Rocket Man’ for his services to the export sector.

Commerce South marketing and event manager Michelle McSoriely said Beck grew up with the late Graham Dick’s son, so it will be a special moment for both families at the awards dinner.

Presentations of the Southland Export Trust Grant will also be made and applications are now open for businesses looking for funding assistance to either start or grow their export market.

“All Southland businesses that fit the criteria, are eligible to apply for the $15,000 grant” said McSoriley.

Since founding Rocket Lab in 2006, Beck has grown to become a globally-recognised industry leader in space.

His father used to be a museum and art gallery director and his mother a teacher, according to Wikipedia.

The family loved machines and Beck left home at 17 to make tools for Fisher and Paykel – using their workshop to make experiments with rockets.

He was last in Invercargill in 2019 giving a talk at his old high school James Hargest.

The theme of the evening is ‘Taking Southland to the World,’ – which seemed appropriate considering Beck had done just that.

Grant applications close on Friday September 23 and the purpose of the Trust Grant is to assist Southland businesses involved in export to aspire towards a sustainable environment, which supports the employment of a skilled workforce through the involved of training, promotion, and education up-skilling, as well as research and development.

Export Southland works to achieve four main purposes

  • Represent exporters’ views on policy issues
  • Promote networking, educational and social events
  • Recognise significant business and individual contributions to the export sector
  • Assist start-up export orientated businesses.


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