Auckland's central business district is home to 8500 businesses and about 65,000 jobs, making it the largest employment centre in New Zealand.

Forming an integral part of Auckland's innovation corridor, this year's Westpac Auckland Business Awards Central award winners provide an indication of the great things we can expect in the near future from emergent, entrepreneurial and innovative businesses that call Central Auckland home.

In Central, winning businesses include Link Business Franchising Limited, pure delish limited, Haka Tours Limited, Naveya & Sloane, Bupa Care Services, Auckland Trotting Club Inc. and OutSource IT Limited's Philip Adamson, winner, Excellence in Business Leadership.

As well as demonstrating excellence in best business practice, awards convenor of judges, Dean Ellwood, praised participants strong company values - including integrity, ethics and a commitment to a "family-oriented" company culture. Participants' success was evidenced by the companies internal values systems as well as their commitment to excellent customer service.

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Winning Central businesses understand the need for a clearly articulated and visualised business model, product and service portfolio and business solution. For some, leadership comes from commercial success built on reputation, client referrals, word-of-mouth and proactive digital marketing efforts. Others pay particular attention to solid planning -- setting targets, implementing monthly reviews of their business and marketing plans and involving the whole team in regular SWOT analysis to keep on top of key performance indicators.

The awards highlight excellence across marketing, innovation, customer service delivery, business leadership, exporting and strategy and planning.

As well as accessing business support and facilitation services through the awards partnership between Auckland Chamber of Commerce and Auckland, Tourism, Events & Economic Development (Ateed), Central businesses can draw on incubators and hubs such as The Icehouse, GridAKL, The BizDojo, Astrolab and powerHouse which collectively assist over 100 emergent companies with shared working space, acceleration programmes and business support, encouraging high-tech development and opportunities for collaborative win-wins.

Award winners:
Excellence in innovation
Winner: pure delish limited

pure delish limited
pure delish limited

For founder Karen Staples, winning the award is an acknowledgement of the past 18 years of hard work.

"We are not looking at what the competition does, instead we are doing things our way. We like to push boundaries in our category and so our products are all done by hand, which means they are not easy products to manufacture. But it's these innovative products that set us apart.

"With our hands-on commitment, it's our people who give us the point of difference. I value the awards process and the people who have been part of my success," says Staples.

Excellence in marketing
Sponsored by Soar Printing
Winner: Haka Tours Limited

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Haka Tours Limted
Haka Tours Limted

As a young Kiwi with a bit of travelling under his belt, Ryan Sanders established Haka Tours to provide custom, private, small group tours immersing travellers in the real New Zealand. Focusing on a stress-free, fun experience for all, and with an often young audience including school groups or overseas visitors, social marketing is a huge element of the business.

"This has been such a worthwhile investment. We're a crazy, small team with a passion for New Zealand and how it's seen offshore. We love showcasing our place across social media," says Sanders.

Best emerging business
Sponsored by Air New Zealand
Winner: Naveya & Sloane

Naveya and Sloane
Naveya and Sloane

Jewellery house Naveya & Sloane specialises in bespoke engagement rings and handcrafted jewellery, making every piece in their Queen St workshop.

"We're in business for the lovers in the world. We don't need another brand for the rich and famous because we already have magic behind our brand and we are rewriting the rules for bespoke jewellery," says Rachel Sloane, owner and creative director.

"[The awards] are a way for us to put a line in the sand and measure how we're doing. Others get to measure us by this too."

Excellence in customer service delivery
Sponsored by Fletcher Building
Winner: Bupa Care Services NZ

Bupa Care Services NZ
Bupa Care Services NZ

Bupa Care Services is an international healthcare group providing specialist services in nursing and residential care for the elderly, including care homes, retirement villages, medical alarms and rehabilitation.

"Our whole team -- from kitchen to frontline staff -- lives by our commitment to providing our clients with the best care possible. For some, we're taking care of their last days," says Jenni Coles, director, Care Services.

"We pay attention to detail and take great care of our customers and their families. Every one of our care homes undergoes a regular Ministry of Health audit."

Excellence in strategy and planning
Sponsored by RSM New Zealand
Winner: Auckland Trotting Club Inc.

Auckland Trotting Club Inc
Auckland Trotting Club Inc

"We see great value in participating in the awards. It fits our strategy of changing perceptions so we are seen as a business, not a club," says chief executive Dominique Dowding. "We will keep growing with these awards and use our participation to position ourselves as a big business."

Auckland Trotting Club has a property business, is the new home of the Blues and leases the functions business.

"People are seeing our strategy is to change Alexandra Park into a precinct to live, work and play; a new destination that people want to come to," says Dowding.

Excellence in exporting
Sponsored by Ports of Auckland Limited
Winner: Link Business Franchising Limited

Link Business Franchising Limited
Link Business Franchising Limited

"We have 33 offices in four countries -- New Zealand, USA, Australia and South Africa. By 2022, our goal is to have 1000 brokers in 100 offices in 10 countries," says Jenny Holden, franchise support manager.

"Our X-factor is our systems. We are a franchise business so we have made sure that all our systems are set up for different markets and customised for each market," she says.

The awards provide an in-built planning process. "Through entering the awards we get to examine our processes, how things work and working together as a team. We all worked on the awards questions separately, then came together and refined our answers," says Holden.

Excellence in business leadership
Sponsored by Marsh
Winner: Philip Adamson, OutSource IT Limited

Philip Adamson
Philip Adamson

"This award is very personal and it's overwhelming to receive it," says self-professed computer geek and managing director, Philip Adamson. "Leadership is what you are rather than what you do. As a kid I was called a leader, but in the 'ring leader' sense. They say a good leader gets lots of people around them who are better than them -- that's what I do now and why I am a good leader.

"People's lives are very important and we need to reflect on that. I buy lunch every Tuesday for the whole team and we all get together -- it's irreverent, sometimes inappropriate but everyone loves being together," he says.

Supreme business excellence
Sponsored by Westpac
Winner: Link Business Franchising Limited

"Winning this award is credibility. It says we're on the right track and it's validating to have that third party endorsement," says managing director Aaron Toresen.

"We talk about chasing the dream. It's about being audacious and being the global leader in our industry -- anticipating the future through our technology, knowledge base and service innovations."

"Doing well is about not having to do it on your own. It's like being the lead singer in a band -- they stand on the other's shoulders. That's how out whole team operates," he says. "We have extraordinary people -- with superpowers!"

Finalists
Excellence in Innovation, sponsored by Ellis Terry
Fast Connect Ltd
iTICKET
Netlogix
pure delish ltd
Reg the Dog Ltd

Excellence in Marketing, sponsored by Soar Printing
Haka Tours Ltd
Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT)
Naveya & Sloane
pure delish ltd

Best Emerging Business, sponsored by Air New Zealand
EQ STRUC Ltd
Liberate I.T. Ltd
Naveya & Sloane
Permit Shop Ltd
Springworld NZ Ltd

Excellence in Customer Service Delivery, sponsored by Fletcher Building
Avokado
Bupa Care Services NZ
Haka Tours Ltd
Imagetext Integrated Solutions
Squirrel

Excellence in Strategy and Planning, sponsored by RSM New Zealand
Auckland Trotting Club Inc.
Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT)
OutSource IT Ltd
Squirrel
The Web Company NZ Ltd

Excellence in Exporting, sponsored by Ports of Auckland
Asia Pacific Superyachts Ltd
Link Business Franchising Ltd
Protempo Ltd

Excellence in Business Leadership, sponsored by Marsh
Chin Abeywickrama -- Netlogix
David Verschaffelt -- Atmospheric Ltd
Ina Bajaj -- East Day Spa Ltd
Karen Staples -- pure delish ltd
Philip Adamson -- OutSource IT Ltd