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Neville Jordan Wellingtonian of the Year

Last updated 23:15 22/11/2012

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A man who began life in poverty and now uses his wealth to launch startup companies has been named the 2012 Wellingtonian of the Year.

Neville Jordan, who founded microwave telecommunications company MAS Technology, is now executive chairman of Endeavour Capital.

He won the science and technology category of the Dominion Post Wellingtonian of the Year awards, at the Amora Hotel Ballroom tonight. However, he so impressed the judges that he was also chosen for the supreme award.

After accepting his award, an emotional Jordan said he was proud to be from Wellington, a great city that he managed to develop a very big international business from.

''When I look at the past winners and I think what they have achieved, I feel very humble.''

His life has been described as a classic rags to riches journey, from a poverty-stricken childhood in Petone to a current worth of about $60 million.

Other Wellys category winners included 17-year-old Brittany Trilford, who won Youth Wellingtonian of the Year. The Queen Margaret College pupil stood before world leaders at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June and called for an end to broken environmental promises.

As one of the opening speakers, she told the conference: ''I'm here to fight for my future. That's it.''

Deirdre Tarrant won the arts category, beating her son, Bret McKenzie . She was rewarded for her tireless work with Wellington's Footnote Dance, from which she is retiring this year after more than 25 years as director.

Dress for Success and Kiwi Community Assistance were recognised by the public in the Dominion Post Readers’ Choice Charities Donations vote for their contribution to making a difference in the greater Wellington region. They will each receive a cash donation of $5000 and a $5000 advertising support package.

The business category winners were father-daughter duo Julie and Graeme Moore , of Moore Wilson's . The family business was established in 1918, beginning as a general wholesaler and growing into a specialist food service warehouse catering to specialist bulk food needs.

Petone resident Irene Livingston was given the community service award, after re-establishing premises for the Hutt Rape Counselling Network. Ms Livingston was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) this year after 14 years as a crisis interventionist and sexual assault support worker.

Education sector winner Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi has more than 60 years' involvement with Maori education. The Ngati Porou stalwart spearheaded the Maori immersion movement, and was made a dame in 2010.

Keith Calder , who was behind restoring the ecological health of Porirua Harbour, received the Welly for services to the environment.

Diana Crossan , who steps down as retirement commissioner next year, was the government section winner.

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett won the sport category. 

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- The Dominion Post

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