The University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding Māori excellence and success in business and are widely regarded as the nation’s premier Māori business awards.
When Blanche Morrogh (nee Murray) started Kai Ora Honey in 2012, she had no idea it would bloom so quickly into a multi-million dollar global concern.
Today, the Far North-based whānau-owned business operates 2500 hives and exports 50 tonnes of Active Manuka Honey to customers in Asia, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Kuwait, with plans to export 90 tonnes-plus by 2020.
Her achievements were honoured on Friday night when Morrogh (Ngāti Kuri and Te Rarawa) received the Young Māori Business Leader Award in the 2017 University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards at a sold-out dinner.
The awards, which recognise and celebrate outstanding Māori excellence and success in business, are run by the University of Auckland Business School and widely regarded as the nation’s premier Māori Business awards.
Morrogh comes from a line of leaders: late grandmother Saana Waitai Murray was one of six iwi representatives who lodged the historic “flora and fauna” Wai 262 claim with the Waitangi Tribunal.
Morrogh, who has an 18-month old, works alongside husband Liam Morrogh, brothers Tae, Sobieski, Samson and Walter and sister Mabel Murray.
“I couldn’t have done it without my family,” she says. “I’m so blown away to receive this award on behalf of us all. Kai Ora arose from the vision of our late grandmother and father Rapine Murray. Now we’re living proof that Māori can operate a successful, sustainable business right here in Te Tai Tokerau.”
Wāhine dominated the awards year, with women taking out four of the five categories for individuals.
“This reflects the strength of wāhine in business across all sectors and industries,” says Dr Chellie Spiller, an Associate Professor and Associate Dean, Māori and Pacific at the Business School.
“These awards recognise the tremendous contributions that all leaders – individuals, organisations and their communities – make to a strong and growing economy grounded in Māori worldviews,” she says.
“Award ceremonies also help highlight role models for rangatahi, which is why we assigned 10 out of 60 tables to students and other rangatahi.”
The Outstanding Māori Business Leaders Award went to shearing legend and prominent businesswoman Mavis Mullins (Rangitāne, Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Ngāti Ranginui), who in July will also be inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame.
Mullins (pictured) started out in business running the family shearing contracting firm, Paewai Mullins Shearing, with husband Koro (one of her sons still travels the world shearing, and is based in Norway). She’s since sat on many boards, including Landcorp, 2degrees Mobile, health boards, Poutama Trust and Taratahi Agricultural Training. She and husband Koro are still active farmers on tipuna land near Dannevirke.
She says she feels bewildered by accolades: “You don’t actually go out looking for acknowledgement when you do what you do. But I’m very grateful for the opportunity these awards bring.”
She’s especially enjoying her work with Rangitane Tu Mai Ra. “It’s exciting to create an economic, social and cultural platform for future generations, an opportunity to get it right,” she says.
“It’s about being able to envision where we need to be, then break it down into do-able stages. This is where Māori have such an advantage because our view is long-term anyway, it becomes less about you and more about who’s to follow.”
Mullins says she and Koro sometimes try to pretend they’re retired. “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – more often it doesn’t!”
Recognising women leaders
Ngaruwahia-born Hinerangi Raumati (Tainui, Taranaki) received the Māori Woman Business Leader Award. Equally active on the marae and in the corporate boardroom, Raumati was CFO of Tainui Group Holdings' small management team that engineered a financial turnaround for the tribe and lifted the financial and operating performance of Te Wananga o Aotearoa.
She was the first woman and female chair to be appointed to the board of Parininihi Ki Waitotara Incorporation (the largest land owner and milk-solids producer in Taranaki), and has sat on several other powerful boards, currently with a Taranaki focus.
“This award is recognition for all the Māori women working in Māori economic development,” she says. “We need to celebrate and recognise the role of Maori women in business because they add significant value with their skills, they broaden the lens through which business decisions are made and they represent a significant portion of the Maori population (about 50 percent) who own assets and share in benefits.”
Alumni award winner
Liz Te Amo (Waitaha, Ngāti Moko, Tūhourangi, Tapuika) won the Dame Mira Szászy Māori Alumni Award. She has worked in the private and public sector, and is currently Te Tumu Whakarae (executive director of the Māori economic development unit) at Hīkina Whakatutuki (the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment). Alongside Te Puni Kōkiri she is responsible for He kai kei aku ringa, the Crown-Māori Economic Growth Partnership which translates literally as ‘growing food by our own hands’ – a metaphor for Māori resilience and self-determination as a people.
“It’s very humbling to walk in the shadow of Dame Mira,” says Te Amo. “I have dedicated my career to serving Māori and Aotearoa in business. It’s a great privilege and very inspiring to see the Māori economy excel and Māori people determine their own economic future.”
Bailey Mackey (Ngāti Porou, Tūhoe, Rongowhakaata) won the inaugural Māori Entrepreneurial Leader Award. Mackey is founder/CEO of Pango Productions and the award-winning television producer behind shows such as The GC, Saving Gen Y, Kapa Haka Kids, and Angelo’s Outdoor Kitchen. Global format rights for his most recent show, Sidewalk Karaoke, have been sold to FremantleMedia, which produces American Idol, X Factor and America’s Got Talent.
“This award is as much a recognition of all the people I’ve been inspired by over the years – from CEOs to people in the community, including my father – as it is for me,” says Mackey.
“I definitely see myself as a Maui-preneur – Maui went out and challenged the status quo. For a lot of my upbringing my entrepreneurial skills weren’t recognised by any system and I was a square peg in a round hole, so it’s great to have these skills recognised, alongside other incredible Māori business leaders.”
Kahungunu Asset Holding Company (KAHC) received the Outstanding Māori Business Leadership Award (for organisations). KAHC was set up in 2005 to manage the Tiriti o Waitangi fisheries settlement assets on behalf of Ngāti Kahungunu, New Zealand’s third largest iwi, based in the Hawkes’s Bay and Wairarapa. It has grown the $33 million settlement to over $110 million in market value, and recently formed a joint venture to buy a deep sea trawler, with plans to develop and export its own branded products.
“We are humbled by this award,” says general manager Jonathan Dick. “A key driver for the KAHC’s strong growth is the depth of the relationship and worldly experience of our iwi chairman, Ngahiwi Tomoana – who says ‘commerce and culture are twins’ - and our company chairman Rangi Manuel.”
KAHC recently held the Taniwha Dragon economic summit, two days before the iwi hosted the hugely popular festival Te Matatini. The summit, designed to encourage iwi and Chinese business connections, generated $130 million in new business deals in the region.