A human resources management sensation has carried off the major honour at the Hastings City Business Awards.

The NZME Supreme Award, at the presentations in Focal Point Cinema in central Hastings last night, was won by Grow HR, which was formed in Hastings 10 years ago last April by former Heinz Wattie's human resources general manager Murray Cowan.

In what was a sign of the business's rapid elevation, Mr Cowan staged something of a recruiting coup when he took on his Wattie's successor, Dave Robb, as a business partner.

The pair now run a burgeoning concern managing human resources with offices in both Hastings and Napier.


On the way to the top last night, Grow HR also claimed the Corporate Service Award for a second year in a row.

Also for the second year in a row, Mr Cowan was absent on holiday, Mr Robb gathering the rest of the crew around as he accepted the award on behalf of the company from Hawke's Bay-based NZME Eastern and Central region manager Russell Broughton.

"This is just a wonderful, wonderful thing for us," Mr Robb told an audience of about 150, including clients who had also been finalists through the seven categories of the awards.

Human resource consultant Mandy Cartwright also spoke on behalf of the company, taking some of the rein offered by Mr Robb earlier in the day when he worried a flight delay might mean he would be absent.

He never expected anything, he told Hawke's Bay Today, being rapt enough for the business to have been nominated, and surprised himself by his own reaction soon afterwards, as the rest of the throng retired for the more-social aspects of the evening in the foyer. "I'm quite ecstatic," he said. "I'm probably going to start talking a bit of gibberish."

The hosts for the night were among award recipients, Focal Point Cinema receiving the Ngatarawa Wines Food and Beverage Service, another milestone in the theatre operator's four years since reviving movies in the State Theatre Building, a Heretaunga St landmark since being built in the reconstruction after the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake.

The MC for the night was Ginette McDonald, who next year marks 50 years in theatre and entertainment trademarked by her 1970s TV character, Lyn of Tawa.