2017 Business Award winners

“Inspiring” is how Grant Kerr, CEO of the Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce described the Nelson Pine Industries Business Awards for 2017. 

In his welcome to the huge crowd of 420 from the region’s business community, Grant said he is extremely humbled to be leading the Chamber and working with, and for, the vibrant businesses in the Nelson Tasman region.

Grant paid tribute to the entrants, judges and sponsors and reflected on the growth the region has experienced over the past 12 months.

The 2017 Award winners are:

Nelson Forests Investing in People and Skills Award: Ngāti Koata Trust
The judges were drawn to the ethos of Ngāti Koata Trust and its targeted focus on its people. Its mission statement succinctly sums up the organisations beliefs and its deliverables.  
NZME Customer Excellence Award: Paradise Brokers
The judges said Kenn Butler strives to ensure his clients feel valued and important, and his integrity and values are well known and highly respected. The reach and growing following that Kenn has developed is testament to his effort, integrity and commitment.

Datacom Innovation Award: Heke Homemade Herbals
Emma has shown terrific dedication and commitment to fine tune the production of teas.  It is this relentless pursuit of refining her art that the judges considered embodied the characteristics of innovation. 
Fairfax Media Business Start-Up Award: R&R Kayaks
The judges said R&R Kayaks demonstrates a simple yet smart success story.  It has the foundations for a sustainable and profitable future.
MediaWorks Small Medium Enterprise Award: Abel Tasman Canonying
The judges said this is a pioneering business for the region and New Zealand, extending into a canyoning school and initiating audit standards. Co-owner Toine Houtenbos embodies dedicated professional leadership, oversight and mentoring skills.
New Zealand King Salmon Large Award: Wilsons Abel Tasman
The judges said Wilsons have continued as stalwart stewards of the national park and invested their expertise, time and money in reaching out to a potential international demand, justifying their position as a stellar star for the Abel Tasman.

Vodafone Special Award for Large Business Excellence: McCraes Blinds and Screens
As there can only be one winner in each category the judges decided this year to take the unusual step of creating an additional award in recognition of a particularly excellent business. In short, this a success story – from garage to greatness on the tenacity and dedication of Annette and Shane McCrae.

Nelson Pine Industries Supreme Business Award: Abel Tasman Canyons
In the judges’ opinion this business ticks all the boxes. It is an adventure company grounded on absolutely professionalism across all areas. Health and safety is afforded the highest priority with staff training and development entrenched within the management of the business.

The judges were impressed with the marketing plan which is targeted and focused. It is clearly paying dividends with a customer service record second to none as evidenced by the 100 percent 5 star Trip Advisor reviews.

Co-owner Toine Houtenbos displays impressive leadership skills and is one of only 8 canyoning guides in the world qualified at trainer level by the International Canyoning Organisation for Professionals. He is one of only 3 canyoning assessors in New Zealand, founded the NZ Canyoning School and was at the forefront of national standards and qualifications

Abel Tasman Canyons is a business well deserving of this esteemed award and should be congratulated for showcasing our region with such professionalism, fun and vitality.

Latest issue of Commerce Comment

Our latest issue of Commerce Comment features the new direction and strategy for the Chamber, as set by Grant after 8 months in the role of Chief Executive.

We also meet our impressive line up of 2017 Business Award entrants, and introduce you to some of our new Chamber members.

We also have excellent business and training advice from our sponsors BlueBerryIT, Chapman ER, Crowe Horwath, NMIT and Pitt & Moore.

Read the latest issue 

Read previous issues of Commerce Comment

Are you passionate about business growth?

We’re looking for an experienced and highly-organised Events Manager who is passionate about supporting business growth by connecting our members through a range of events, and ensuring they’re engaged with and receive value from their Chamber membership.

It’s an exciting time to be joining the Chamber. Our aim is to be the most valued first point of contact for business support and advocacy in the region, and we’re on the cusp of implementing some exciting changes to add real value for our members.

This role is dedicated to managing the Chamber’s events and sponsorship, and will help to build the positive brand and profile of the Chamber.

Find out more about the role here


Chamber Board election results

Thank you to our members for taking the time to vote in the recent Board election for the 2017/18 Chamber Board, and to the high caliber of nominees who put themselves forward for the two Board positions.

Congratulations to Ru Collin, who was a Board member and went through unopposed as Vice President, and we welcome two new Board members Robyn Wilson and Nigel Andrews.

The Board now consists of:

  • Lees Seymour, President
  • Patrick Smith, Past President
  • Peter Pattullo, Vice President
  • Ru Collin, Vice President
  • Emma McCashin, Board member
  • Manoli Aerakis, Board member
  • Robyn Wilson, Board member
  • Nigel Andrews, Board member

The overall voting response rate was up seven percent from the Board elections in 2015, reflecting the high engagement of our membership. 

A special thank you to our two outgoing Board members, Vice President Gillian Wratt and Vice President Marina Hirst-Tristram for their enormous contribution and guidance during their tenures on the Board. The Chamber wishes them well for the future.

Meet our new Board members

Robyn Wilson

Robyn has an extensive background in commerce, having spent 30 years in the banking industry in various roles and locations, including 6 years overseas. In her current role as Commercial Business Partner with the BNZ, Robyn works with local businesses helping them achieve their growth aspirations, and understands the challenges and successes of doing business in the region.

“I am genuinely excited about this opportunity to be involved with the Chamber and I thank the members for their support. As a voice for local business, I believe the Chamber is a key conduit to driving the success of the local economy through engagement with local government and the community. I’m passionate about the Nelson Tasman region and am looking forward to adding value through my experience and common-sense approach.”

Nigel Andrews

Nigel Andrews became the youngest Shell retailer in NZ in 1995 aged 25. In 2000, he left Christchurch to operate three Shell stations in Nelson, which grew to 12 incorporating Nelson, Marlborough and the West Coast. More recently Nigel has been an elected representative of all Z Retailers, and was awarded ‘Nelsonian of the Year’ for business in 2015 and a Civic Award in 2016 for Leadership in the Community.

“I feel honoured to have been elected to the Board and trust that my experience as a Shell, and now Z, retailer since 1995 will add value. Having achieved many of my personal business ambitions, my passion is now the safety and development of my teams, and making a positive impact in the areas that I operate. I look forward to working with the other Board members towards the advancement of Nelson as a place of business”.

Business sets expectations for incoming government

Setting strong expectations for an incoming government to support sustainable development, address the current skills gaps, reduce red tape compliance, and regionalise policy solutions are key planks of the Business Election Manifesto released today by the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce (NZCCI).

As part of NZCCI’s collective advocacy mandate, it commissioned a report in April to understand business needs across New Zealand ahead of the general election. More than 990  businesses across New Zealand were surveyed, and they identified the following expectations of the government post-election September 23:

  •  Be overtly supportive of sustainable business development.
  • Recognise and support the link between strong businesses and strong communities.
  • Address skill shortages through education reform, skills development and online support of targeted migration
  • Reduce compliance costs across business in areas such as health and safety, resource management and taxes.

“Solution-based thinking is exactly what we need right now,” says Michael Barnett, Auckland Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive. “In Auckland, especially if the council and Government continue to be unwilling to lift the pace and investment needed to solve congestion and other transport issues Auckland has, it won’t just be our transport crisis that will continue to get worse, but the city’s employment and other problems exacerbated by the cost and frustration of moving around the city.”

Wellington Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive John Milford says the survey found that there was a real consensus that government has to continue to get the platform right for business. “This isn’t a ‘nice to have’ wish list – these expectations are fundamental to New Zealand’s economic growth and success.”

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Peter Townsend says it’s critical that an incoming government recognises that different regions require different inputs from central government. “For example, there is an undisputed need for continued strong migration in Canterbury.  A one-size-fits-all approach on this issue, to address a perceived problem in Auckland, across the country will simply not work.”

Otago Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Dougal McGowan says local and central government partnerships are essential to maintaining and growing infrastructure in order to cope with growth throughout the country.  “It’s essential for business across many sectors that the right scale of investment is made to ensure productivity is not compromised.”

 Key recommendations in NZCCI’s manifesto to the incoming government include:

  •  Make a deliberate effort to ensure better collaboration across government platforms so that we can get better whole-of-government solutions and opportunities. Businesses want to see better collaboration and communication across government ministries, and further identified the need for central and local government to work much better together.
  • Bring focus and strength to regional development. The need to regionalise economic development and policy was also high on businesses’ mind, believing that there is a need for government to respond on a regionally specific basis.
  • Provide democratic comprehensive support for policy settings that will encourage and promote sustainable business growth. There was also a view that the incoming government should make further investment in quality infrastructure, with the goal to make it easier to do business.

Each Chamber of Commerce will be advocating on behalf of their chamber members locally ahead of the election.

Download the NZCCI’s full message for the incoming Government.


Changes to temporary work visas

Last week the Government announced decisions on proposals announced in April to change the settings for temporary migrant workers under the Essential Skills policy.

The changes include:

  • The introduction of remuneration bands to assess the skill level of roles offered to Essential Skills visa applicants
  • The introduction of a maximum duration of three years for lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders, after which they will need to spend 12 months outside New Zealand before they can be granted an Essential Skills visa to work in another lower-skilled role, and
  • Requiring the partners and children of lower-skilled Essential Skills visa holders to meet the requirements for a visa in their own right (they will still have access to short-term visitor visas).

The changes will be introduced on 28 August this year.

For more information read the media release and questions and answers on the New Zealand Immigration website.  

Originair to fly between Nelson and New Plymouth

Originair is extending its airline services by adding direct flights between Nelson and New Plymouth which will take approximately 50 minutes.

Initially there will be eight flights a week between the two cities, taking off from September 29. The airline will be flexible around scheduling, reflecting extra demand during school holidays and long weekends.

Originair managing director Robert Inglis says they are introducing the direct flights after listening to business and leisure travellers.

“Currently anyone travelling between the two cities may spend lengthy periods transiting via Auckland and Wellington instead of less than an hour with direct services”.

“We believe the Nelson and New Plymouth communities will support this service.

“It will appeal to travellers who want to spend a weekend in either city and to business travellers commuting for a week’s work or a short stay,” Mr Inglis says.

The airline currently flies between Nelson and Palmerston North, a service which started in 2015 and is popular with business and leisure customers.

The company’s British Aerospace 18-seat Jetstream aircraft will fly the route and the company is adding another Jetstream to its operations to cover contracted charter flights, tours and maintenance coverage.

For more details on flight times and costs visit the Originair website,

Origin aircraft landing in Nelson