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Awards Celebrate Maori Women's Success

Awards Celebrate Maori Women's Entrepreneurial Successes

Auckland, May 8, 2001 - Maori women entrepreneurs' significant contribution to the New Zealand economy and to Kiwi business innovation will be honoured at this year's Maori Women's Business Awards.

Entries for the prestigious awards - to be presented at a special ceremony in Auckland on June 29 - close on June 8.

Held every two years, the awards were set up by Maori Women's Development Incorporation (MWDI) in 1995 to recognise and celebrate the achievements of Maori women entrepreneurs.

MWDI Founder and Director Dame Georgina Kirby said Maori women entrepreneurs should be recognised for making a significant contribution to the economy, and the awards would highlight their achievements and showcase their success stories.

"Maori business women mean serious business and are a formidable economic force," she said. "Their enterprises are estimated to contribute more than $1 billion annually to the economy, and there is a huge potential to build on this.

"The awards provide an opportunity for the New Zealand public and the business community to be inspired by the efforts of successful Maori businesswomen." For the 2001 awards a new category, for achievement in self-employment, has been added to the award's existing four categories: Best Small Business, Best Business - Employment Creation, Best Regional Small Business and the supreme prize, Overall Excellence in Business.

The overall winner of the 1999 Maori Women's Business Awards was Caron Taurima, Managing Director of Carich Computer Training, Christchurch. Previous overall winners were Karroll Brent-Edmondson (1995), KT Footwear, Auckland, and Catherine Tait-Jamieson (1997), Bio Farm Products, Palmerston North.

Maori women from diverse business backgrounds including software design, computer training, accountancy, publishing, manufacturing, cheesemaking, hairdressing and shearing have been honoured at the awards.

About Maori Women's Development Inc: The Maori Women's Development Inc is a business success story in itself. MWDI was set up in 1987 as a finance institution providing loans and business development services such as mentoring and training to Maori businesses. It was formed by the Maori Women's Welfare League to address a need for a professional, cost effective lending service geared to Maori businesses. From its small beginnings - it was set up with the assistance of a $200,000 government grant - MWDI has grown to become a leading standalone financial institution. Since 1987 MWDI has helped establish more than 3500 businesses nation-wide, with a proud success rate of 92 per cent. MWDI also encourages Maori women into business, promotes innovative marketing strategies and helps build a network of Maori businesswomen. A board of trustees, whose duties include taking a mentoring role, runs the incorporation. The trustees are:

*Dame Mira Szaszy, educationalist.
*Hine Potaka, Zespri grower.
*Dame Georgina Kirby, who also sits on the Lotteries Commission board.
*June Mariu, a member of the Aotearoa Fisheries Commission.
*Aroha Reriti-Crofts, member of the Lotteries Commission and Census Commission. *Aretu Koopu, a member of the Human Rights Commission and Waitangi Tribunal.
*Druis Barrett, a member of the Kohanga Reo National Trust and the recent Gisborne Cervical Screening Inquiry.
* Jackie Te Kani, a member of the Maori Education Trust and current President of the Maori Women's Welfare League.

Prepared for MWDI by Communicator.

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