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Haka honours UK Kiwi

DIANA WORTHY
Last updated 05:00 19/02/2014
Eric Tracey
KIWI ADVOCATE: UK New Zealander of the Year Eric Tracey and wife Patricia spend most of their time in England because of work but cherish six weeks a year at home in Palm Beach. ‘‘We missed one year and I felt like I was walking around with an arm off,’’ Eric says.

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Holding back the tears was a supreme act of self control for Palm Beach resident Eric Tracey when a surprise haka was performed in his honour in London.

The tribute, by members of London's Maori cultural group Ngati Ranana, came after he was named UK New Zealander of the Year 2014 at the Dorchester Hotel on February 7.

The award was presented by Sir Alexander Lockwood Smith and Air New Zealand UK and Europe general manager Antony Price.

It is the second time it has been won by a Waiheke resident - Kent Gardner was named in 2012 for his support of Christchurch earthquake relief efforts.

Eric got this year's award for an outstanding contribution to New Zealanders here and in the UK.

The honour also recognises the way he's presented a positive image of New Zealand in England.

Eric helped created the UK Branch of the New Zealand Society of Accountants, is chairman of UK Friends of Auckland University, acting chairman of the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal UK and former chairman of the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Beachheads Programme.

He will continue to fly the Kiwi flag on top of work demands as a high level trouble shooter accountant for Deloitte in London, helping turn around the fortunes of companies in strife.

His efforts to help and promote New Zealand started 20 years ago when he says he realised it was more important to assert his Kiwi identity than put all his energies into his job.

"People of my generation who received a state education reasonably feel we owe the country something."

He likes being able to "do stuff for New Zealand" and says hardly a day goes by when he doesn't feel he wants to assert his Kiwi identity one way or another.

Eric was among three finalists gathered at the New Zealand Society's Waitangi Day Charity Ball and says he was really chuffed when he found out he'd won.

The singers and dancers were dressed in their dinner outfits when they launched into the haka.

"It was the most amazing honour to be given for them to do that. I had to take a few deep breaths. It was magnificent."

The Auckland born and raised accountant is on his six-week holiday with wife Patricia at their Palm Beach house, their only New Zealand home.

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