The Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony extravaganza held on Friday, 11 November, 2022 revealed ten Pacific business award winners.
The vibrant award night was full of emotion, inspiration and stories from the award winners and the master of ceremonies, beloved PMN’s 531pi radio announcer Ma’a Brian Sagala, who kept the room entertained throughout the night.
Dignitaries Minister Grant Robertson and Minister William Aupito Sio gave keynote addresses to a capacity filled room of 675 people. Also in attendance were National’s Deputy Leader Nicola Willis, MPs, Auckland councillors as well as business and Pacific community leaders.
The awards were presented to Pacific business leaders for innovation, achievements and success, and there were inaugural recipients of three new awards that recognised Excellence in Construction and Trades, Leadership in the Pacific Community and Pacific Creative Enterprise.
The Pacific Business Awards winners for 2022, that were judged by an independent panel, are:
Award 1: Tautua Alofa Pasifika Award for Pacific Social Enterprise – sponsored by Pasefika Proud, Ministry of Social Development and presented by Serena Curtis, General Manager Pacific and Community Capability at MSD:
Winner: Filipo Saua – Zenith Fitness and Snapback Gym. The heart and soul of commercial gym Zenith Fitness is their social enterprise, a charitable trust named Snapback ‘toe a’e se tofa’ which contributes to positive health, exercise and wellbeing outcomes for Pacific people in Aotearoa.
Award 2: Fetu’u Fo’ou Award for Young Pacific Entrepreneur – sponsored by Deloitte New Zealand and presented by Amy Dove, Partner – Risk Advisory, Deloitte:
Winner: Alexia Hilbertidou, GirlBoss NZ. As the only girl in her digital technology class at school, Alexia was inspired to create GirlBoss New Zealand, the largest Young Women’s community in the country with 13,500 members. Their programmes are now in more than 100 schools and help to close the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths, entrepreneurship and leadership.
Award 3: Mataka Vou Award for Pacific Business Enterprise – sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and presented by Felicity Bollen, Director for Pacific Connections, MFAT:
Winner: Eli Tagi, WE MANA. Multi-award winning innovative business advisory in New Zealand and Samoa, WE MANA are a catalyst for change within the accounting industry. WE are leaders in diversity, encouraging Pacific and Māori businesses to thrive. They are role models, helping business be proud of who they are and where they come from. From coaching to governance of boards and providing financial literacy to communities in need, WE are doing everything to help people to realise their own dreams in business and their vision of impacting the lives of 10 million people in the Pacific.
Award 4: Kanumea Afine Loto Toa Award for Pacific Woman in Business – sponsored by Tātaki Auckland Unlimited and presented by Sarah Leo Anderson, Local Economic Development Advisor, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited:
Winner: Nora Swann, Nora Swann Ltd. Nora is a successful businesswoman, pioneer and creative entrepreneur in the Pacific region’s fashion industry with her finger on the ever changing pulse of the fashion world. Nora directs major fashion shows including the innovative Pacific Fusion Fashion Show and gives back by empowering female youth with the Dressed in Confidence Wellness Programme. Nora also advocates for diversity in the fashion industry with The Swann Modelling Agency. Headquartered in South Auckland, Nora has created opportunities for more than 500 aspiring Pacific and Māori creatives.
In her acceptance speech businesswoman and fashion entrepreneur Nora Swann reflected on how challenges helped her to be more strategic “I’d like to thank all the challenges that come my way, because as Pacific business owners we all work really hard, but if it wasn’t for the challenges, all the declined applications, all the roadblocks I wouldn’t be smarter in how I run my business and I wouldn’t be strategic. Thank you for helping me grow as a Pasifika woman in business.”
Swann thanked the Pacific Economic Development Agency, Pacific Business Trust who has worked with her for six years. She also thanked sponsors Tātaki Auckland Unlimited and supporters of the Pacific Fusion Fashion Show – the Ministry of Social Development and Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board. Dedicating the award to the Pacific fashion community, Swann said “This award goes the Pacific fashion community. We work really hard and it’s really hard to get love. I would also like to thank Minister William Aupito Sio for always having the Pacific fashion community’s back.”
Award 5: Galu Fou Award for Pacific Innovation – sponsored by Spark New Zealand and presented by Rachael Tasi, Client Director for Spark Health and Martin La’a, Group Lead, Skinny Jump, who are both part of Vaka Pasifika a collective of Pasifika at Spark passionate about seeing higher participation of our people in tech and progression into tech leadership roles:
Winner: Dain Guttenbeil, LifeStone Ltd. This 100% Pasifika Māori pastoral care entity, LifeStone offer a unique and authentic way to honour and celebrate those who have passed. LifeStone’s technology and app allows families to tell the full story of their loved one, brimming with videos, music, photos and written reflections to their memorial, headstone or plaque, activated by a smart phone. They are also reducing carbon footprint by crafting headstones locally with the goal to create jobs for Pacific nations and protect our own island nations.
Award 6: Langa Fonua Award for Pacific Excellence in Construction and Trades – sponsored by Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment and presented by Kirsty Flannagan, General Manager, Tautoru (Economic Strategy), Te Waka Pūtahitanga, MBIE:
Winner: Rau Tangiiti, Independent Traffic Control. Specialising in the delivery of traffic management solutions to their clients ITC is one of the largest traffic management companies in New Zealand, with 400 employees. ITC are in the health and safety sector, keeping clients, workers and the general public away from potential hazards while operating on the road network, from diverting motorists away from an accident to controlling the crowds attending a major sporting event, their role is vital in keeping people safe.
Award 7: Tū Rangatira Kama’atu Pacific Award for Pacific Business Entrepreneur– sponsored by Industry Partnerships – Ministry of Social Development and presented by Amanda Nicole, Director Industry Partnerships, MSD:
Winner: Orion Tiatia, Trust & Loyalty Security. Trust & Loyalty Security is a 100% Pasifika locally owned professional security firm providing a range of security services led by the expertise of founder, Managing Director and entrepreneur, Orion Tiatia. They are proud of their workforce, who are 95% Pasifika and Māori and have created hundreds of jobs and employment opportunities for other businesses to enter the industry. Servicing clients across the nation from their HQ in South Auckland, they have expanded into ten regions and have an eye on international expansion.
Award 8: Moana Creative Enterprise Award
– sponsored by Creative New Zealand and presented by Caren Rangi, champion of Pacific arts, culture and creativity – Chair of the Arts Council of Creative New Zealand:
Winner: Neil Ieremia ONZM, Black Grace. New Zealand’s leading contemporary dance companies, Black Grace makes us proud not only as a Pacific community founded organisation, but also as master craftsmen at the top of the game nationally and globally. Founded by Neil Ieremia in 1995 who draws from his Samoan and New Zealand roots to create innovative dance works that reach across social, cultural and generational barriers.
In his acceptance speech Ieremia acknowledged Creative New Zealand for their support of 30 years especially in the Pasifika department and “navigators that led the way for the arts and really inspired me to find my own pathway. The late Iosefa Enari, Jim Vivieaere, Albert Wendt, Fatu Feu’u, Nathaniel Lees and John Pule just to name a few trailblazers.” He further acknowledged “all the Pacific Island artists and Pacific art organisations out there working. The Black Grace family, past and present, for all your work over the years. My family, my brother and sisters, nieces and nephews, my Isabella, Isaac, Alietta and Eva, and my wife, Abby for her love and support.”
Ieremia reserved his biggest thank you to his parents who let him use their family home to secure a loan with the Pacific Business Trust one year into starting the dance company in 1996, “They went ‘of course son, whatever you need’, and I thought now I can’t fail. There was no way I was going to let them be homeless. My biggest thank you is reserved for them. It’s really common for us as Pacific people. It’s the love we have for and from our families that drive us to succeed. Thanks Mum and Dad.”
Award 9: Arataki Award for Leadership in the Pacific Community
– sponsored by Ministry for Pacific Peoples and presented by Leatigaga Jason Tualima, Deputy Secretary Corporate Services and CFO, MPP:
Winner: Debbie Sorensen, Pasifika Medical Association. Pasifika Medical Association is the largest Pacific NGO in the region. It has a network of 7,000 members across the region, employs 180 staff and has stewardship across the Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency Pasifika Futures and the ETU Primary Care services. The organisations vision is to Enhance Prosperity for Pacific Peoples and ensure that Pacific Children live as long as anyone on Earth.
Award 10: Pacific Legacy Award
– sponsored by Pacific Business Trust and presented by the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Hon William Aupito Sio:
Winner: Mr Fiso John Fiso ONZM, The Fiso Investment Group Ltd. John Fiso has achieved significant milestones over the last 30 years in the business, education and sport sectors operating in regional, national and international arenas. He has developed the largest private Pacific investment fund aimed at supporting business initiatives in the hospitality, wellness, education, property and health sectors.
Fiso is a visionary has always been focused on excellence and accepts nothing less from himself and his staff. He has the ability to bring together diverse ranges of people to work for a common goal. He is driven to achieve goals, solve problems and execute strategy.
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