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Kristine Bartlett Next Woman of the Year Supreme Winner

Announcing Next Woman of the Year Supreme Winner for 2017

Kristine Bartlett, equal pay champion

When aged-care worker Kristine Bartlett filed a case against her employer over her low pay, she unleashed a five-year battle that ended in a historic victory for gender pay equality – and a wage rise of between 15 and 50% for more than 55,000 caregivers. Her claim centred on the fact that because workers in her sector were overwhelmingly women, her low pay was the product of gender bias.

The ripple effect of Kristine’s brave stand cannot be overstated. Since the initial claim unions have been using the precedent of her case to seek pay raises for other low-paid, female-dominated groups. These include education-support workers, mental-health workers, social workers, teacher aides, part-time high-school teachers, school-support staff, midwives, and early-childhood education teachers.

Kristine is the embodiment of ‘Stand Tall’ – the motto of her union E tū, which filed the case against TerraNova Homes and Care Ltd on her behalf. By putting her head above the parapet and speaking out, she became a voice for the low-waged – mainly female – workers in aged residential care, home support, and disability services. And she had no hesitation in taking a stand. “I told the girls at work, ‘I’m standing up for what’s right because we struggle from week to week, work so hard for so little, and we’re so undervalued,” she told NEXT magazine.

The Human Rights Commission dubbed the victory an “historic step forward for gender equality”. Yet the woman whose action forced the government to enact new legislation – the Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) Bill, which is now with a select committee – is a humble hero, consistently emphasising the important role played by E tū staff, the legal team and other supporters.

The Hon Paula Bennett, television journalist Toni Street, NEXT Editor Rachael Russell and NEXT Editorial Director Sarah Henry were on the judging panel for the 2017 NEXT Woman of the Year awards in association with Elizabeth Arden.

The panel congratulates Kristine on her success and contribution to the battle for gender equality in the workplace. “She’s proof that we can all make a difference when we stand up for what we believe is right and fair,” says Paula Bennett.

NEXT Editor Rachael added, "Kristine shouldered the responsibility of taking on the very important fight for pay equality, and in doing so improved the lives of so many deserving women.”

Kristine, who also took out the Community category, received her NEXT Woman of the Year Supreme Award tonight at a ceremony held in Auckland.

The full list of category winners:

Arts & Culture: Carla van Zon – Former arts festival artistic director and a pivotal figure on the Kiwi arts scene for decades.

Business & Innovation: Ranjna Patel – Co-founder of New Zealand’s largest independent primary healthcare group, East Tamaki Healthcare, now Nirvana Health Group.

Education: Dame Wendy Pye – The owner of Sunshine Books, who has spent the past 35 years helping millions of children to read.

Health & Science: Dr Melanie Cheung – Auckland University research fellow and leader of the world-first research project ‘FightHD’, which aims to help delay and potentially reverse cognitive decline for those at risk of Huntington’s disease.

Sport: Heather Te Au-Skipworth – Co-founder and CEO of IronMāori, the world’s only annual indigenous half-Ironman triathlon.


About the NEXT Woman of the Year Awards in association with Elizabeth Arden

The annual awards are run by NEXT magazine and are now in their eighth year. They are the first of their kind to recognise New Zealand women in six distinct fields: Health and Science, Arts and Culture, Sport, Business and Innovation, Education, and Community. This year’s awards are in association with Elizabeth Arden.

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