Four successful Maori men and women won prizes in Auckland last night at the Aotearoa New Zealand Maori Business Leaders Awards, which also named one organisation as outstanding.

The awards recognise and celebrate excellence and success in business, and people and entities are honoured for their contributions to the advancement of Maori enterprise here and around the world.

Jason Witehira was named outstanding Maori business leader.

He owns the Victoria Park New World supermarket and is also chairman of the New World North Island supermarket owners' group.


He is a member of Nuku ki te Puku, Callaghan Innovation's Maori economy programme, and is a director of Foodbowl Innovation and of the Ngapuhi Asset Holdings Company.

Jamie Tuuta was named young Maori business leader.

He is chief executive of Te Tuma Paeroa and a director of Aotearoa Fisheries, Wools of New Zealand, Taranaki Investment Management and Tourism New Zealand.

Miriana Stephens was named the Maori woman business leader.

She is a director of Wakatu Incorporation, which has about 4000 shareholders who descend from the original Maori land-owners of the Nelson, Tasman and Golden Bay Regions.

Stephens also runs small business and money management courses and has published three books on small business and indigenous business development.

Karen Vercoe, who was a double international for New Zealand, representing the country in rugby and touch, won the Dame Mira Szaszy Maori Alumni Award.

She is the founder and managing director of KTV Consulting and was elected iwi chairwoman of Te Pumautanga O Te Arawa, which is the Te Arawa post settlement governance entity.

Ngai Tahu Holdings, with assets now exceeding $1.4 billion, won the outstanding Maori business leadership award.

"Ngai Tahu Holdings has contributed approximately $400 million to help grow the wellbeing of Ngai Tahu whanui, with expectations of achieving nearly $50 million in annual distribution next year," the award citations said.

"Ngai Tahu Holdings has used profits to both grow existing businesses and to invest in new ones, to develop a diversified portfolio including farming and forestry, property, tourism, transport, seafood and manuka honey."