Taupo Beef has taken out the top spot as the most sustainable New Zealand business, winning the NZI Greatest Contribution to a Sustainable New Zealand award, as well as the Restorative Impact award for its work in beef farming and water-quality protection.

The company redesigned its business model when it faced insolvency after stringent new rules on nitrogen caps kicked in. Taupo Beef changed its farming practices to create premium products with fewer stock.

Sustainable Business Network chief executive Rachel Brown said the company stood out to the judges. "[Taupo Beef] has led the way."

"Told that it wouldn't work, they are instead receiving outstanding reviews for their beef and are demonstrating how New Zealand farmers can change to produce a high-value product while also farming environmentally and sustainably."

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The 13th awards event was held last night in Auckland with about 650 guests from companies nationwide.

Other winners included Eat my Lunch, Dorothy Wilson, Snap IT, Kaibosh, Akina Foundation, Wishbone Design Studio, Gull, DB Breweries, Abodo Wood and Laminex NZ's Taupo manufacturing site.