The NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards celebrates the innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurial excellence of New Zealand’s rural communities. The calibre of this year’s entries indicates that living and working rurally need not be an impediment to achieving excellence across a wide range of sectors. Presentation of the Awards to the Category Winners and the announcement of the overall Supreme Award Winner took place in Wellington on Friday, 18 November.
Love of the Land: The Limery- Dianne Downey
While working in the beverage industry, Dianne and her husband Paul identified an unmet niche in the market. In 2009, they purchased 4
hectares of land in Wairoa and established a start-up business growing limes. Today, the Limery is home to 4,000 lime trees and produces 100% pure New Zealand citrus products and juices which are available nationwide. The Limery is a fully integrated and sustainable business which means Dianne and Paul oversee everything from the orchard through the production process to distribution and sales. As the business has grown, Dianne and Paul have helped grow their community too. They developed Te Rau Haumako, an on-site programme which offers industry experience to local rangitahi. The Limery also collaborates and encourages smaller growers to ensure continued supply as demand for their products increases while the smaller growers benefit from access to state of the art processing facilities. This creates further employment and career options for local people using previously underutilised land. Dianne’s passion for her business and her community runs deep. Her vision and innovation has created a sustainable and environmentally friendly business that exemplifies love of the land.
Award Sponsor: Ministry for Primary Industries
Supreme Winner and Creative Arts: The Bitches’ Box and Amelia Guild Art
New Zealand lies at the heart of this year’s Creative Arts Award winner. Amelia Dunbar operates both a rural entertainment business and works as an artist from her home in mid- Canterbury. Having made a decision very early in life that she wanted to remain living rurally, Amelia has been working as an actor/writer /producer of comedy duo The Bitches’ Box which has toured nationwide delivering three comedy shows in our rural communities over the last decade. The shows encourage rural communities to come together for a meal and a laugh and build connections in remote rural Aotearoa New Zealand. She is currently working on a feature length film based on the live shows which will bring The Bitches Box story to a wider audience.
Amelia is also an artist and has been selling her beautiful works for over twenty years. They are produced under the name Amelia Guild Art. Then sheep/beef/deer on her family farm provide the inspiration for Amelia’s colourful artworks which celebrate her love of her rural life. In addition to her original paintings, Amelia now produces a range of limited edition prints of some of her pieces.
Award Sponsor: NZI (Supreme) and Public Trust Hall (Creative)
Emerging Business: Foxtrot Home – Kate Cullwick
Kate Cullwick and her sister, Prue, created their online homewares business, Foxtrot Home, just on five years ago. Having identified a niche in the homewares market, they began sourcing and importing ethically made, sustainably produced natural French linen products. With a strong focus on customer experience and riding a wave of soaring interest in linen products, Foxtrot Home took off. Having grown up on a beef and sheep farm, the sisters were determined that living rurally would not be an impediment to sourcing their products nor prevent them operating a very successful online business. When the sisters started to think about diversifying their product range, wool products were a natural fit. Kate lives on a farm in Central Hawke’s Bay. Using strong wool grown on the farm, Foxtrot now produces baby blankets and throws. Foxtrot’s profile has allowed Kate to champion New Zealand wool and the fantastic farmers who produce it. Kate and Prue are busy expanding their wool offering and will have new products available next year.
Award Sponsor: Ministry for Women
Rural Health and Wellbeing Excellence: Strong Woman – Sarah Martelli
Sarah Martelli became Strong Woman after facing her own serious health challenges and rebuilt her wellbeing and fitness from rock bottom. In doing this, Sarah realised she could offer support and advice to other rural women who found themselves disconnected, recovering from health challenges or who were on a journey to take control of their wellbeing. Strong Woman is a grassroots, small business that is genuinely authentic and keeps it real. Sarah’s clients are on more than a health and fitness journey when they join Strong Woman – they become part of her community. This is what sets Sarah apart: her focus on the one-one connection with her clients and the integral part that forming connection plays in overcoming isolation, especially in rural communities. Sarah understands the struggles facing rural women as they try to keep all the balls in the air because she is one. Sarah sets up her challenges to be season specific for the work that she and all other farming will be undertaking at any given time. It’s not just about physical strength either, being a Strong Woman is about being strong for yourself, your family, your community and the rural sector. Sarah is building resilience in rural communities one strong woman at a time.
Award Sponsor: Access Community Health
Innovation: Hopefield Hemp – Jody Drysdale
Jody Drysdale is Southland born and bred. Jody and husband Blair had been looking for ways to diversify their farming operation to include a value-add, direct to consumer product and they decided on hemp. After undergoing the rigorous certification process, they planted their first crop which quickly flourished. The fast growing crop required some nimble decision making and research to turn that crop into products. Today, Hopefield Hemp grows, harvests, presses and markets hemp seed oil. It is small batch pressed
and is available in bottles and capsules. In response to one of her children experiencing skin irritation, Jody researched and developed a recipe to make a soothing cream using her hemp seed oil and Hopefield Hemp’s skin care range was launched. Hopefield Hemp is very much a family business and building connection with customers is hugely important to Jody. She produces a newsletter every three months which is sent to Hopefield’s customers to keep them up with what is happening on the farm. Like all great innovators, Jody and Blair have a nothing ventured, nothing gained approach to their business and already have an eye to the future.
Award Sponsor: Hynds Rural
Rural Champion: Whānau Consultancy Services – Serena Lyders
Serena Lyders is passionate about the shearing industry. She is a 6th generation member of a shearing family and the industry and the people in it are close to her heart. Serena knew from an early age that she wanted to make a difference in the lives of others, especially women and children, and lead change to address the intergenerational trauma and social issues in the shearing industry. As a Māori woman, Serena brings a holistic view which encompasses Te Ao Māori to make real change across all aspects of the sector. Serena is naturally curious about people and the world. She has a thirst for knowledge and learning and whenever she comes across something she is interested in, she throws herself into learning more. She has a formidable range of qualifications which have provided an incredible base for the work she now undertakes. Serena has spent over 18 years in health and social work environments and has been the driver and innovator behind
countless initiatives to empower people in her region and across the country. Although creating industry specific protocols for the shearing industry is Serena’s current focus, she hopes that these will provide a template for the forestry and fishing industries. Serena is a wonderful example of someone who constantly gives of herself to empower others by promoting holistic wellbeing, traditional Māori healing and access to healthcare and social services.
Award Sponsor: Jarden Partners Limited
Bountiful Table: The Craypot – Dayna and Nicole Buchanan
Sisters Dayna and Nicole Buchanan took over the operation of the Craypot in Jackson Bay, South Westland in 2018. Since then they have transformed the menu which features beautifully presented fresh kaimoana and produce from local suppliers. The Craypot has become a go to place for visitors wanting a truly authentic New Zealand food experience. The Craypot hosts many passing tour groups but it has now become a sought after destination for helicopter tours groups. Dayna and Nicole absolutely love what they do and have an eye to the future but are mindful of preserving the uniqueness that draws people far and wide to The Craypot.
Award Sponsor: Havana Coffee Works