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Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalists

Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalists Announced

Finalists in this year's Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year have been announced, with 15 talented New Zealand entrepreneurs, representing 14 companies, competing for New Zealand's only globally recognised business award.

The finalists in the 2006 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year programme are:

 Dan Alpe, Ezy.co.nz, Auckland
 Nigel Bamford, Escea, Dunedin
 Doug Bartlett, Cabco Group, Auckland
 Gary Clareburt, Pacific Network Communications, Wellington
 Jenny Clegg, Federation Clothing, Auckland
 Roger Cockayne & Wayne Norrie, Revera, Wellington
 Mike Donald, Terralink International, Wellington
 Christine Hyett, Credit Consultants Group, Wellington
 Michael McDonald, Mactec Aerospace International, Christchurch
 Chris Paulsen, House of Travel, Auckland
 Bob Robertson, Infinity Investment Group, Wanaka, Central Otago
 Jim Robertson, Tuapeka Gold Print, Lawrence, Central Otago
 Richard Taylor. Weta Workshop & Digital, Wellington
 Seeby Woodhouse, Orcon Internet, Auckland

Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award Director, Roger Hatrick-Smith, says it is encouraging to see so many successful entrepreneurs entering the competition.

"We have an outstanding group of finalists who represent entrepreneurship in this country at its finest. Each has an incredible story behind their success," says Mr Hatrick-Smith.

"Entrepreneurs play a critical role in shaping New Zealand's business environment and contributing to the economy. They create jobs, put New Zealand on the map and they often give back to the communities in which they operate. Importantly they inspire those around them."

Finalists will now move on to face a panel of five independent judges, including Michael Hill of Michael Hill Jeweller; David Johnson of Trends Publishing International; journalist and commentator Deborah Hill Cone; Peter Maire, founder of Navman; and last year's Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, George Fistonich of Villa Maria Estate.

Chairman of the judging panel, David Johnson of Trends Publishing International, says that he is looking forward to his role as a judge in this year's competition.

"At this stage it's already clear that this is going to be a very tough and interesting competition to judge," he says.

"All the finalists display the business acumen and high level of achievement that being an entrepreneur entails."

Last year's Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, George Fistonich, of Villa Maria Estate, will spend his first year on the judges' panel and says that it will be interesting to experience the competition as a judge.

"I am pleased to be on the judging panel and honoured to play a part in helping these finalists to succeed," says Mr Fistonich.

"The benefits of participating in, and winning, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year have been incredibly beneficial for myself, Villa Maria Estate and the New Zealand wine industry."

The next stage of the judging process will result in the announcement of the category winners on Wednesday 6 September, 2006. The five categories are:

 Retail, Consumer, Industrial Products, Financial and Property and Arts
 Services including Financial, Business, Property and Arts
 Technology, Communications & Biotechnology
 Young Entrepreneur (entrepreneurs less than 30 years of age at the time of close of applications), and
 Master Entrepreneur (for leaders of well established businesses which have a significant commitment to entrepreneurship).

The overall winner will be announced at a gala dinner on 11 October, 2006, and will compete for the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year title in 2007.

ENDS

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