Bay of Plenty businesses have been named finalists in this year's New Zealand International Business Awards.
Fifty-three finalists and nominees have made the final stage of the 2021 awards for export businesses.
Among the Bay finalists were Bluelab for Best Established Business and Excellence in Digital Commerce Transformation.
Kids Ride Shotgun is a finalist for Best Emerging Business and Innovation in Response to Covid-19.
Heilala Vanilla is a finalist for Excellence in Sustainability and the company's chief executive Jennifer Boggiss is also a nominee for Inspiring Women Leaders.
HOTMilk director Lisa Ebbing is also a nominee for Inspiring Women Leaders and LawVu – providers of software for legal firms – is a finalist for Best Emerging Business.
This year's awards finalists and nominees come from a range of industries and sectors – representing the innovation, resilience and ambition of New Zealand exporters on the world stage.
Winners across the eight award categories, plus a Supreme Award chosen by judges, will be revealed on October 14 at a gala awards dinner in Auckland, alert levels permitting.
The New Zealand International Business Awards are run by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise - Te Taurapa Tūhono (NZTE).
This year, four awards are being presented for the first time: Innovation in Response to Covid-19; Leveraging Investment for International Growth; Excellence in Digital Commerce Transformation; and Excellence in Sustainability.
Convener of judges David Downs says the number of finalists in this year's awards – exceeding the record set in 2019 – is testament to the standards being set by exporters during a uniquely challenging period for businesses.
"Even in normal times, becoming a finalist in the New Zealand International Business Awards is no mean feat – entrants have to complete detailed applications, and then present to our judging panels with 20 minutes to explain why their business should be recognised.
"It's even more impressive to come through that process with flying colours despite all of the challenges of the last two years. We're genuinely privileged as judges to hear from these remarkable people and businesses."
This year's finalists represent a range of sectors spanning aerospace, digital services, agritech, food and beverage, creative industries and more.
NZTE's ongoing awards partnership with ExportNZ has allowed selected winners and entrants from regional awards programmes to be included in the pitch sessions.
EastPack and MyFarm form strategic partnership to accelerate
kiwifruit industry investment
One of New Zealand's largest kiwifruit packhouse operators, Bay of Plenty-based EastPack, and kiwifruit orchard syndicator MyFarm Investments have formed a partnership to accelerate New Zealanders' access to, and investment in, the kiwifruit sector.
The partnership brings together MyFarm's extensive network of specialist rural land investors with EastPack's expertise in growing, packing, and exporting kiwifruit and its "world-class" network of packhouses and cool stores.
It will have MyFarm buying kiwifruit orchards and then leasing them to EastPack. The lease is under MyFarm's proprietary lease-plus-profit share model, which provides the security of a minimum lease payment but with the bonus of profit share returns.
MyFarm chief executive Andrew Watters said this model has attracted more than $100 million of investor capital over the past four years.
EastPack will meanwhile get the opportunity to make the most out of its investment in orchard management and the kiwifruit supply chain.
The duo are starting the partnership with MyFarm's Gold Income Limited Partnership, which has acquired Rangitaiki, a 15cha (canopy hectare) SunGold orchard near Edgecumbe that EastPack will lease for five years plus extensions.
They have also agreed to further co-operate as new and suitable properties are found.
EastPack processes 25 per cent of New Zealand's kiwifruit crop, employing more than 3700 people across six sites in Bay of Plenty during the packing season.
EastPack's subsidiary, Prospa, manages about 1100ha of kiwifruit orchards in Northland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato.
MyFarm Investments has been gradually building its presence in the kiwifruit sector since enabling investors to purchase their first Bay of Plenty orchard in 2017.
Today, just under 400 MyFarm investors have a stake in nine orchards, growing 106cha of predominantly SunGold kiwifruit in the Bay of Plenty.
MyFarm's Gold Income Limited Partnership is open to wholesale investors and is seeking
$13m in capital to acquire the Rangitaiki orchard.
EastPack chief executive Hamish Simson said the co-operative has been leasing orchards for more than 20 years.
"Until now we have not partnered with a professional, independent investor group from outside the Bay of Plenty kiwifruit industry. This is a great opportunity to broaden our customer base.
"Meanwhile, Rangitaiki is a new development that will deliver further throughput for our Edgecumbe site and reward us for our investment in our orchard management arm, Prospa."
Picking the way to a better asparagus future with robotic harvesting
A robotic asparagus harvester project led by growers is set to reinvigorate the New Zealand asparagus industry, by helping to alleviate labour challenges.
The New Zealand Asparagus Council (NZAC) and Tauranga-based Robotics Plus will work alongside asparagus growers to develop a commercial-scale autonomous robotic asparagus harvester.
The aim is to help address ongoing labour shortages in the industry and support growers to tap high-value export markets.
The Government's Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund is contributing $2.6 million to the $5.83m project.
"We're really excited to get this project under way as we simply don't have enough people to do the work," says Mangaweka Asparagus grower and NZAC chairman Sam Rainey.
"Robotic harvesting will be a game-changer for the asparagus industry that currently relies heavily on picking asparagus by hand, which is hard toil. An average picker will walk 10km per day, so it's extremely difficult to attract people to do the work.
"Having the ability to access a commercial robotic harvester will also go a long way to helping manage costs, ensuring we can continue to put locally grown fresh asparagus on our plates."
Steve Saunders, CEO of Robotics Plus, says an autonomous asparagus harvester will help to alleviate labour constraints, reduce and stabilise costs, and allow New Zealand asparagus to have a more competitive offering in high-value export markets.
"We're excited to be working with growers and the New Zealand Asparagus Council to ensure we develop a solution that tackles challenges head on and creates a better future for the asparagus industry.
"It's an ideal robotics project as green asparagus is conducive to automation as it grows above ground. In addition, it replaces a physically arduous job that only has a brief employment window that growers struggle to attract harvesting labour for."
The project builds on a prototype harvester robot developed by University of Waikato researchers with Robotics Plus.
Over the last two seasons, Robotics Plus has supported the University of Waikato's prototype asparagus harvester project led by Dr Shen Hin Lim, senior lecturer in mechatronics and mechanical engineering and mainly assisted by PhD candidate Matthew Peebles and robotics engineer Josh Barnett, and mentored by Professor Mike Duke.
The first prototype robotic asparagus harvester was demonstrated in California in 2019, and the second iteration was trialled in Waikato last year.
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) supported the University of Waikato research programme, and Callaghan Innovation supported the PhD fellowship, prototypes and trials.
"These early prototypes have given Robotics Plus great insights into creating a next-generation, commercial-scale asparagus harvester and has helped generate strong interest from the asparagus industry."
Advancing the project to a commercially available asparagus harvester will help increase grower returns and exports, says grower Geoff Lewis, of Tendertips.
"However, it's not just the picking that is important; it's all the other aspects this technology can bring to the industry, such as yield data and potential add-ons such as packing and even weeding."
New Zealand Asparagus Council business manager Karen Orr says the New Zealand asparagus industry needs to be able to export some of its produce during peak season in late October and November.
"Being able to export excess produce is crucial for grower returns, and the future of domestic asparagus growing.
"As part of this project, we'll be creating a unique selling proposition for New Zealand- grown asparagus overseas to generate export revenue for the country."
Orr says half the cost of producing asparagus is labour.
"That's why we've named this project Asparagus Future ... We'll help growers work together with Robotics Plus and MPI to create a future path with this autonomous crop management project."
Tauranga Business Awards entries closing soon
Entries close next week for the Tauranga Business Awards 2021.
The annual awards, hosted by Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, is open to any business based in the Western Bay of Plenty and is an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the brilliance of local business.
Event organiser Anne Pankhurst says the awards are a great opportunity for local businesses to tell their stories, to recognise their team and to become the "go-to" business in one of the 11 categories available to enter.
Entries close on September 24 at 5pm. All entrants will also be up for the publicly voted People's Choice Award, sponsored by NZME. Public voting for this award starts in October.
Rotorua Business Awards postponed
The 2021 Tompkins Wake Rotorua Business Awards has been postponed until November.
Scheduled for October 9, the main gala event will now be held on November 13.
Nothing will change except for the date, and organisers say ticket sales are running hot, so people were encouraged to lock it in.
To enter, go to www.rotoruabusinessawards.co.nz
A petition with more than 60,000 signatures has spurred additional government support to businesses affected by Covid-19.
The petition was spearheaded by Auckland Business Chamber and distributed throughout the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce network, of which the Tauranga and Rotorua chambers of commerce are members.
The petition had small-to-medium businesses nationwide call for the Government to do more to support business owners and help them cover costs incurred due to the latest lockdown.
The result is the extension of the resurgence payment support scheme (which opened on September 17) to help them cover some recurring costs, from rents to GST, while they cannot operate due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said he was pleased with the outcome, and that ministers Robertson and Nash have responded positively to the concerns of local businesses.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard was also delighted with the outcome.
"We were hearing stories of desperation from businesses.
"The chambers worked alongside other business organisations with our petition."
Provisional incoming Tauranga Chamber of Commerce Board announced
With voting now closed, the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce has announced its provisional incoming Board.
The provisional board includes Jess Warn (Holland Beckett Law), James Dow (Sharp Tudhope Lawyers), Jade Maddox (BloomCo), Tom Beswick (Ingham Mora), Leanne Elder (L Elder Consulting), Mark Allen (ASB Bank) and Melanie Dyer (Port of Tauranga Ltd).
The 2021 board will be confirmed at the chamber's AGM on September 30.
The chamber has thanked its outgoing board members for their dedicated support and service.
That includes Conor Quinn (BizStar), Sam Williamson (Tabak Business Sales), Dr Leon Fourie (Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology), Sam Tabak (Holland Beckett Law), Fiona Mackenzie (The Culture Co), Tony Snow (Stratus Blue NZ), Anne Blakeway (Tauranga City Council), Ben Cain (James & Wells IP) and Peter Williams (Veros).
New Tokoroa dairy processing plant to create 50-60 jobs
A new dairy processing plant planned for Tokoroa is expected to create 50 to 60 fulltime jobs.
Olam Food Ingredients (OFI), a global leader in natural and sustainable food ingredient solutions, this week confirmed plans to develop a dairy processing facility in Tokoroa.
It is now taking expressions of interest from potential farmer suppliers, employees, contractors, and general trade suppliers.
OFI has made two senior New Zealand-based appointments to support the development: operations director Paul Rennie joins from Tasti Products Ltd, and general manager milk supply Paul Johnson comes over from Fonterra.
The first stage of the new investment, expected to be commissioned in Q3 of 2023 in time for peak season, will involve the construction of a spray-dryer facility capable of producing high-value dairy ingredient products.
Other facilities will be added over time to expand the range targeting "key customer applications in desserts, bakery, beverages, and confectionery categories".
Operations director Paul Rennie said the new factory was expected to create 50 to 60 fulltime jobs in Tokoroa when fully operational, with more jobs likely in future stages of the development.
AA announces new chief executive
The board of New Zealand's Automobile Association has announced Nadine
Tereora has been appointed its new chief executive from February next year.
The appointment follows current CEO Brian Gibbon's decision to retire in January next year after 30 years leading the AA as the only CEO it has known.
He was also CEO of the Wellington (Central) Automobile Association, which he joined in 1982, for 10 years.
Association president Gary Stocker said Nadine was clearly the best candidate to take the
AA on the next stage of its journey.
"We are absolutely thrilled that Nadine will be joining us as CEO. Her leadership experience in the financial services industry is extensive and varied, making her one of the leading and most innovative executives in the sector.
"We have worked with her before when she was CEO at Asteron Life, our joint-venture partner on AA Life Insurance, and have held her in high esteem for many years."
Nadine has been the chief operating officer of insurance company Partners Life and the CEO of Fidelity Life from 2016 to 2020, when she played a central role in
securing a $100m cornerstone investment by the New Zealand Super Fund to drive
innovation and growth.
Nadine's 2014 appointment to Asteron Life, where she served as CEO and executive general manager, distinguished her as one of the first female CEO of a Suncorp Group company. She will join AA as the company's first female CEO.
She has been a financial services council board member since October 2016, serving as
chair of the life insurance committee, and a founding member of the Diversity and
Stocker also paid tribute to Brian Gibbon, who he said had been an inspirational leader during the past four decades.
"Brian has achieved an immense number of milestones such as turning a membership base of 600,000 into 1.8 million members ..."
Brian will continue as CEO until the end of January.
Nominations for TECT Community Awards 2022 open
The TECT Community Awards are back for 2022, with nominations now open.
The 2022 Awards will be held in March at the Baycourt Community and Arts Centre, following an online showcase of finalists in the six weeks prior on the TECT website, Facebook and Instagram.
TECT chairman Bill Holland said the awards will recognise and celebrate the community groups and volunteers who keep the region thriving, showcasing their work online to thousands of people and with a special awards night.
The six categories open for nominations include Event Excellence, Diversity and Inclusion, Sustainable Future, Heart of the Community, Youth Spirit and Volunteer of the Year Award. There will also be a Lifetime Service Award winner chosen from the Volunteer of the Year Award nominations.
A new addition to the 2022 award categories is the Heart of the Community Award, which is replacing the Rising Star Award. It will recognise a group that has gone above and beyond business as usual to support a thriving, caring and connected community in the past year.
The People's Choice Award is also back for the event, allowing the general public to vote for their top pick from all finalists. Voting for the People's Choice Award will open in February.
Oropi School – Garden to Table won two awards at the TECT Community Awards 2021, winning the Sustainable Future Award and People's Choice Award.
The TECT Community Awards 2022 will be hosted by TECT in partnership with Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council.
Any not-for-profit organisation and volunteer in Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty can be nominated for the TECT Community Awards. Self-nominations are also encouraged.
Nominations close on October 29. They can be submitted at www.tect.org.nz/community-awards-2022.
The awards ceremony will take place on March 17 next year.