The Business Wairarapa annual WBS Wairarapa Awards gala evening was held on Tuesday night at Masterton’s Hood Aerodrome – home of 2019 Supreme Award winners Wings Over Wairarapa – with those attending the sold-out event entertained by celebrity MC Jason Gunn.
This year’s Trust House Supreme Award winner was Greytown’s Festival of Christmas, which now attracts 50,000 visitors to the town each year during the traditionally quiet winter months and has produced an annual economic benefit of $4.5 million to the region.
The month-long festival, which has only been running since 2020, was also selected by the independent judging panel as the winner of the Tranzit Group Vibrant Award.
The WBS Emerging Business Award was awarded to Cycling Tom Bike Shop.
The judges believe that Tom McCallum’s success – underpinned by a strong vision and diversified revenue streams – “shows how people with drive, determination, charity and optimism can succeed in business”.
Brackenridge Country Retreat & Spa founder Cathie Morrison was the recipient of the More FM Wairarapa 89.5 Service Award.
The judges noted the pivotal role Morrison has played in establishing and leading the iconic Wairarapa tourism destination over the past quarter century as a premier retreat.
The Harcourt Hamill Realty Award for Innovation was scooped up by MyTrucking, thanks to its “innovative software solutions, industry partnerships, exceptional customer service, financial success, and vision for future growth and international expansion”.
Inspire Living took home the Gibson Sheat Team Award, which recognises service to the community, wellness and well-being, and investment in people.
The judging pannel commented on the company’s “strong leadership and unwavering commitment to the team, diversity, community, and continuous growth”, along with fostering “a positive work culture providing outstanding career and professional development opportunities”.
The winner of a new award category this year – the White Swan Country Hotel Experience Award, which recognises the willingness to go above and beyond to provide an exceptional customer experience – was Driving Miss Daisy Wairarapa, for “offering an impeccable level of service that is compassionate, respectful and invaluable to their clients”.
The winner of the other new award category on the night was Masterton Food Bank, picking up the Masterton Trust Lands Trust Not-For-Profit Award, which recognises contributions made to the Wairarapa community.
The judging panel made special mention of “the vitally important service it provides to the community and families dealing with food security issues, with over 130,000 free, nutritious meals provided each year”.
The Wairarapa [WEDS] Award for the most youth-friendly business went to Powershop Masterton, which now serves over 200,000 customers and has earned multiple customer satisfaction awards.
Its win was due to a commitment to young talent in the region that’s demonstrated by the fact that 25 per cent of its staff are under the age of 25, as well as the company’s strong programme of active engagement with local colleges.
Wairarapa Youth Charitable Trust took home the Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Pakihi Māori Award for the way in which the trust, through the Wairarapa Boxing Academy, has made a significant contribution to Māori enterprise, offering support, guidance, and inspiration to Māori youth.
The Business Wairarapa Board also paid tribute to former Masterton mayor Bob Francis and Wairarapa Dark Sky Association chair and former South Wairarapa mayor Viv Napier “for their selfless contributions to the region, which have spanned many decades”.
“Each year the quality of the nominations for the Wairarapa Awards increases,” Business Wairarapa chair Marie-Claire Andrews, “and this reflects the way our business community continues to punch well about its weight and also how our region has established itself as one of New Zealand’s premier destinations for tourism.”
“On behalf of the Business Wairarapa Board, congratulations to all of the finalists and winners, and a huge thank you to Trust House and all of our category sponsors, along with our partners Legend Aviation, 3 Little Words, Urlar, MBA Brewery, Noise Productions, Printcraft, Carterton, Masterton, and South Wairarapa District Councils, and our event organisers Splash.”