NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards Winners 2023

Rural Health and Wellbeing Excellence: Kathryn Wright Counsellor

It was a natural progression for Kathryn Wright, having obtained qualifications in psychology, sociology and social services and cumulating in a Master’s degree (MPP), to gravitate towards rural mental health and wellbeing. Kathryn realised that the prevailing mental health resources, education and media were not reaching those in need in her rural community. As a rural woman living on farm, Kathryn is uniquely placed to relate to her clients’ rural experiences and situations and the impacts of these on their mental health and wellbeing.

Kathryn specialises in helping rural people wherever they feel most comfortable. Approximately 50% of her work involves video calls and she had held sessions in tractor cabs, trucks, sitting with working dogs, sheds and paddocks. She has written extensively on the barriers young rural males encounter in seeking help for mental health issues.

Not one to let the grass grow under her feet, Kathryn is about to embark on a doctorate and her research will focus on rural community connection and factors that harm it.

Sponsor: Access Community Health

View Kathryn’s website here. 

Bountiful Table: Hayz At The Anchorage – Haylee-Chanel Simeon

Haylee is Bluff born and bred and has worked in the hospitality industry for 20 years. She grew up enjoying beautiful local produce and became frustrated that these fabulous resources were not showcased in the restaurants she worked in.

Hayz At The Anchorage was born out of Haylee’s desire to highlight indigenous ingredients in vibrant, modern ways. Her dishes skilfully mix nostalgia with a wow factor which modernises traditional Māori kai in adventurous and innovative ways.

When COVID-19 meant supplies became hard to source, Haylee’s response was to forage indigenous ingredients, adapt her menu to the resources around her and grow her own produce. She has taken her community, especially local tamariki, along on this journey with her.

Hayz At the Anchorage is so much more than a restaurant. It is a focal point for the Bluff community which celebrates a rich cultural heritage, nurtures sustainability and is the vehicle for Haylee to put Southland on the world map as a culinary destination. 

Sponsor: Havana Coffee Works

View Haylee’s Facebook here. 

Emerging Business: Honest Wolf – Sophie Hurley

Honest Wolf was born out of Sophie and Sam Hurley’s search for a solution to several issues.  Sophie had been commuting to work from the farm and was ready for a change.  As a mum, she wanted to be able to spend precious times with her children, and she wanted her own business. Sensing an impending opportunity with the phasing out of plastic bags, and seeking a greater return from their wool, Sophie and Sam settled on creating sustainable and renewable bags from their wool.

Honest Wolf has thrived and now includes a wider luggage and accessories. The story behind Honest Wolf is embedded is every aspect of the business and this will provide a fabulous point of difference for growth into international markets. Collaborations with other businesses also provide opportunities for new markets and products. Using the power of social media and e-commerce has been central to growing brand awareness and sales.

In the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle and seeing the terrible impact it wrecked on rural communities, Sophie added a donation option to the Honest Wolf website which raised $95,000 for rural communities on the East Coast.

Sophie is a passionate advocate for the potential for women to own and operate businesses in rural Aotearoa New Zealand. She undertakes speaking engagements to tell her story and inspire others: living in a remote location need not be a barrier to starting and building a successful business.

Sponsor: Manatū Wāhine Ministry for Women


View Sophie’s website here.

Rural Champion: Target PR – Rebecca Greaves

Journalist and farmer, Rebecca Greaves, has been a champion for the rural sector though her work in a range of media publications, digital, podcast and broadcast platforms. She focuses on telling the authentic stories of the incredible work undertaken by farmers and others working in the primary sector. Shouting rural stories from the rooftops is her jam and she crafts her stories into content that educates, inspires and entertains rural and urban audiences.

In addition to her day job, Rebecca also champions rural communities through the events she organises which celebrate and support causes close to her heart including the Moanaroa Ladies Long Lunch and Mud Sweat and Cheers. Cyclone Gabrielle hit Rebecca’s farm and her local community hard. She has been actively involved in supporting others by co-ordinating visits to deliver baking and meals to farms and workers in her region. Most recently, Rebecca has been working with Gisborne charity #Hear4U which advocates for men’s mental health, wellbeing and suicide prevention.

This rural champion balances her paid and unpaid work to champion those that live, work and play in rural Aotearoa New Zealand.

Sponsor: Jarden Financial Partners

View Rebecca’s website here.

Innovation Award: Real Country - Laura Koot

Laura is a southern girl who returned to her rural roots after years away earning a Bachelor of Science degree, a Masters of Business Administration, working in communications and marketing, and traveling overseas.

Realising she wanted a change of perspective, Laura mind-mapped what she wanted in a business of her own. She created Southern Girl Experience which offered women the opportunity to build confidence though on farm outdoor experiences. She sought to empower other women as she empowered herself. 

Real Country broadened this offering to the wider public and provides southern hospitality to people wanting to step out of their comfort zone and try something new. The business thrived and at the end of the first season, Real Country was the highest rated inclusion by Contiki. Needless to say, COVID-19 brought the business to its knees as the tourism market evaporated overnight. 

Laura was forced to pivot and innovate to survive. Having come out the other side, Real Country is now thriving again. Laura is taking time to work on the business and to develop new experiences and offers while her team runs the day-to-day activities. Throughout her business journey, Laura has remained steadfastly focused on offering an authentic, positive, southern experience which seeks to empower others.

Sponsor: Marks & Worth

View Laura’s website here. 

Love of the Land Award: Nature and Nosh/ The Bush Boardroom – Kylie Rae

Having travelled extensively overseas and enjoying the trails and food in other countries, Kylie Rae saw an opportunity to create unique hiking experiences for foreign and local visitors in this country. Kylie is the founder of two businesses, both of which share the same Kaupapa – a deep appreciation for our country’s beauty and biodiversity. Nature and Nosh combines trips into native bush with delicious food.  The Bush Boardroom offers corporate groups a full immersion nature experience for strategy and team days outside of the usual four walls.

The Bush Boardroom grew from Kylie’s need to diversify her Nature and Nosh business in the wake of COVID-19. Both businesses epitomise the Love of the Land category. Inspired by nature and science, Kylie’s vision is to get more people outdoors and educate them on the benefits that it provides them and build environmental awareness of our special conservation places.

Kylie literally and metaphorically walks the walk when it comes to the conservation values that drive both businesses.  In addition to regularly taking groups out herself, Kylie donates profits from her businesses to a range of conservation organisations and initiatives. Environmental sustainability is paramount and Kylie leaves the lightest possible footprint to ensure minimal disturbance while celebrating Aotearoa’s unique biodiversity.

Sponsor: Ministry for Primary Industries

View Nature and Nosh here. 

View The Bush Boardroom here.

Creative Arts: Botanic Press – Emma Hasler

Emma decided not to return to work as a physiotherapist following the birth of her second child.  She wanted to pursue a more creative path and establish her own business. During the late nights caring for a newborn, Emma set about drawing up a list of criteria for her new business. She had always been passionate about flowers and in a lightbulb moment decided to investigate pressing bouquets to create beautiful, one-off artworks. From there on, it was a process of trial and error to perfect her technique and her business, Botanic Press, was born.

Botanic Press specialises in preserving flowers and bouquets from significant life events to create timeless keepsakes for her customers.

Now, Emma and her team at Botanic Press, receive bouquets of flowers from all over the country to create bespoke pressed flower artworks which capture a moment in time for their customers. There has been an extraordinary demand for these wonderful creations.  It is very important to Emma to continue to work with the beautiful flowers entrusted to her to create stunning arrangements that are a blend of artistry, craftsmanship and personalisation and a lasting memento of her customer’s special occasion.

Sponsor: Alltech

View Emma’s website here.