Riki Kerekere, Operations Manager of Countdown Meat & Livestock in Otahuhu, has won the Christie Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the retail meat industry.
Now in its eleventh year, the Christie Award is the retail meat industry's annual recognition for a lifetime of commitment, fervour and perseverance to enhance the trade.
It was set up in honour of Geof Christie, a butcher and tutor of trainee butchers in polytechnics, whose passion for his trade was tireless.
Kerekere was recognised with the award at the Alto Butcher, ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice and Pure South Master Butcher live stream event in Auckland last night.
"I'm just honoured to have joined that list of amazing people who have paved the way for the industry and made things possible for me and my career. I'm just so happy to have won," Kerekere said.
Kerekere has been involved in the meat industry all his working life.
Starting out as a clean-up boy, he progressed over time through to a management role, becoming instrumental in mentoring and training staff and apprentices at the Countdown plant in South Auckland.
Kerekere had his own unique personal approach and knowledge, which was highly respected, not only by his own team, but also those in the wider meat industry.
Kerekere had some words of advice for the many young apprentices who looked up to him.
"Just keep working at it. As long as they have the drive, then there's a way. The pathway is there, they just need to grab it and run with it."
President of Retail Meat New Zealand, Jason Trewern, said he was delighted the award had gone to Kerekere.
"He's a great role model and leader and has worked passionately to support young butchers coming into the trade. Countdown's success in the ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice competition in recent years is testament to that,"
"He's given many hours of his time to support industry events and butchery competitions over the years both as a judge and competitor of high distinction."
Kerekere joined an esteemed list of other Christie Award recipients that included, The Mad Butcher Sir Peter Leitch; Todd Heller, founder of Hellers NZ and butcher and Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Rod Slater amongst others.