It was the best start to the week for Whanganui woman Carla Donson: receiving an email to tell her she was a finalist in the Women of Influence awards.

"It's pretty fantastic. It's exciting and humbling," said Ms Donson, who has been the manager of the Women's Network Whanganui for the past 13 years.

There are 10 categories in the awards: arts and culture, management, business enterprise, community/non-profit, diversity, global, innovation and science, public policy, rural and young leader.

Ms Donson is one of 14 finalists in the community/non-profit category.


At the awards ceremony in Auckland on October 12, a winner will be chosen from each category, as well as a supreme winner.

Ms Donson was nominated for the award, although she doesn't know who put her name forward.

"I'm familiar with the awards process, though, and I know it is very extensive. Even to be nominated is very exciting."

She said the calibre of the nominees was very high. Previous winners of the awards, which have been held since 2013, include campaigner against domestic violence Lesley Elliott, University of Auckland professor Margaret Brimble, and academic and former politician Marilyn Waring.

Presented by Westpac and Fairfax Media, the awards acknowledge and celebrate women who are helping to shape the future of the country.

"The email I received said the judges had had difficulty in selecting the finalists because the calibre was so high," Ms Donson said.

She said her selection was great recognition for Whanganui, and for her grassroots organisation.

"Women's Network Whanganui is a small, independent organisation, but what we are doing is being recognised nationally. I think that's worth celebrating," she said.

Ms Donson said she had received lots of messages from people since her nomination had been announced.

"People have even stopped me in the street to congratulate me."