A Tai Tokerau wahine who has shown strong leadership in the education field for more than two decades has been recognised for her achievements after becoming the latest inductee to the Northern Advocate Business Hall of Fame.
Raewyn Tipene (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine), founder and CEO of He Puna Mārama Trust Group, is being celebrated by her peers for her success in business, technology and education, and is the first Māori wahine to join the hall of fame.
Starting far afield as an earth scientist in Australia, Tipene was called back home by an urge to make a difference for her whānau
She began her local engagements as a board member of Te Rūnanga ā Iwi o Ngāpuhi and chairwoman of Te Rūnanga O Ngati Hine, and was significantly involved in the Kia ora Ngāpuhi Housing organisation which assisted 700 whānau into homeownership as well as the Ngati Hine Radio.
In 1997, Tipene launched the He Puna Mārama Trust which gave her more opportunities to directly deal with people, she said.
"It's about more do-ey, less hui."
Through the trust, Tipene launched five Mokopuna Early Childhood Centres, two kura (Te Kāpehu Whetū) as well as several business and technology programmes.
"My drive is my desire to provide a better life for my four children and my grandson."
Tipene said she wasn't happy with the education system and believed "we can do better for kids who are struggling".
"I'm proud to have made a difference for my kids."
The education project Tipene is most fond of is Tai Tama Tāne, the Leadership Academy of A Company, which "is linking boys to something bigger than they ever thought they could be part of".
The academy pays tribute to the 28th Māori Battalion aspiring to build Māori leaders and has seen more than 200 graduates, many of whom have gone on to higher learning or trades.
As part of its current project, the He Puna Mārama has bought some acres of land in Hikurangi and is planning to build 10-14 affordable houses for first home buyers.
Tipene said the people she has been working with have earned just as much recognition for those achievements.
"It takes a village to run these projects."
Steve Smith, CEO of the Northland Chamber of Commerce, along with Northern Advocate editor Rachel Ward inducted Tipene to the Northern Advocate Business Hall of Fame in a smaller than usual ceremony last week.
Smith, who said celebrations had to be kept small because of the current Omicron outbreak, described Tipene as an intelligent and engaging woman with "infinite quality" and an "awesome sense of humour".
"Raewyn continues to deliver for Northland, especially Māori. This is not to be sneezed at – most of us couldn't hope to deliver what she does. We're incredibly proud of her."
The Northern Advocate Business Hall of Fame recognises Northlanders who have demonstrated service both to their industry and to the greater Tai Tokerau community.
Tipene's induction is part of 2021 Northland Business Excellence Awards, presented by NorthChamber, which are celebrating business achievements in the region.
Small business Foreno Tapware, which supplies tapware to the major distributors and trade outlets throughout New Zealand, received the Northpower and Top Energy NZ Northland Business Excellence Supreme Award as well as the Marsden Maritime Holdings Ltd Excellence in Medium Business Award.
Flax and Fibre, a sustainable small business that creates contemporary artwork using harakeke, also took home two trophies - Creative Northland Excellence in Creative Industries and the NorthChamber Judges Choice Award.
2021 Northland Business Excellence winners:
• Northern Advocate Business Hall of Fame: Raewyn Tipene
• Northpower and Top Energy NZ Northland Business Excellence Supreme Award: Foreno Tapware
• Creative Northland Excellence in Creative Industries: Flax and Fibre
• NorthChamber Judges Choice Award: Flax and Fibre
• More FM Customer Choice Award: Thomas Online
• Te Mana Oranga Workplace Diversity & Inclusion Award: Sunshine Homes & Cabins Limited
• Northland Inc. Innovate Northland Award: Developers Institute
• Northland Inc. Innovate Northland Special Commendation Award: Foam Anchor Limited
• Marsden Maritime Holdings Ltd Excellence in Medium Business Award: Foreno Tapware
• Vodafone New Zealand Best Digital Transformation Award: Marsden Metals Group Ltd
• EMA Best Not For Profit Award: Waitangi Treaty Grounds
• ACC Workplace Safety Award: North Drill
• Henderson Reeves Excellence in Small Business Award: Matakohe Architecture + Urbanism
• Wynn Fraser Best Emerging Business Award: Developers Institute
• ASB Excellence in Micro Business Award: Kirsty Joy Photography
• NDSL Ricoh Northland Excellence in Large Business Award: Tlc4u2 Limited
• Northland Regional Council Environmental Excellence Award: Extrutec
• Business Coaching New Zealand Business Coaching Voucher: Studio 51