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Puzzling World scoops top accolade at Business Awards


5 November 2016. For immediate release

Puzzling World scoops top accolade at inaugural Ignite Wanaka Business Awards

World-famous Wanaka tourism attraction Puzzling World has been judged the supreme winner at the inaugural Ignite Wanaka Business Awards last night (November 4).

Puzzling World – an iconic destination at the entrance into Wanaka for more than 40 years – also won its category of Outstanding in Tourism during a night of celebrating business success at Rippon Hall.

Newly-elected Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult presented Puzzling World’s general mangerHeidi Landsborough and marketing and operations manager Duncan Spear with the supreme award.

Simon Telfer, convenor of the independent judging panel says: “Puzzling World is a high-performing, unique and sustainable Wanaka business that continues to grow year on year. It invests in new attractions, has very low staff turnover, a strong health and safety focus and uses technology to drive efficiencies and customer experience.

“Judges were impressed that this iconic Wanaka business has stood the test of time. Puzzling World has stuck to its core business and continues to derive great benefits for its shareholders, staff, customers and the Wanaka community.”

The Awards evening’s other top accolade was presented to Wanaka resident Mark Verbiest – recipient of the Outstanding Individual Award (supported by Milford Asset Management). Verbiest is chairman of Spark, a director of ANZ Bank NZ, Frieghtways and on the commercial advisory board of the NZ Treasury.

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In the Wanaka community, Verbiest donates his time as a voluntary Trust board member of the Southern Lakes Arts Festival Trust, which runs the hugely successful Festival of Colour. He is also a financial supporter of the Festival, as well as assisting McKinsey & Co establish what has become an annual corporate retreat for major CEOs and directors, based around Aspiring Conversations, in Wanaka. Mark provided strategic advice to the Wanaka Gigatown

committee, and he is a member of the Wanaka Angel Investor Network, which aims to support new and entrepreneurial start-ups in town.

“The judges recognised Mark’s local presence but national leadership. His contribution to the NZ business community is outstanding and his service to Wanaka and NZ Inc is appreciated. He is a very worthy recipient of this inaugural award,” Telfer says.

Winners of the Awards categories are:

• Outstanding in Infrastructure/Trades supported by Ray White Wanaka: Aquasystems Australasia.

• Outstanding in Professional Services supported by Queenstown Airport Corporation: Eyes on Ardmore.

• Outstanding in Tourism supported by Lake Wanaka Tourism: Puzzling World.

• Outstanding in Retail/Hospitality Supported by Rippon Hall: Mons Royale.

• Outstanding Innovators supported by Chorus: Revology. Highly commended to kin2kin.

The awards ceremony and gala dinner attracted a sell-out crowd of 220 businesspeople.

Ignite Wanaka Chamber of Commerce chairman Alistair King thanked the locally-based independent judging panel – Simon Telfer, Anne Urlwin, Bill Day and Giselle McLachlan – for their time and dedication to making the inaugural awards a success.

“The Chamber is absolutely thrilled with the first-ever business success awards for Wanaka and we are so lucky to have such a high-calibre panel of nationally-respected judges who live here,” King says. “From the large number of entries through to the high interest in the event, it’s heartening to see that our business community is strong and doing exceptional things at local, national and international levels. Awards like this show just how vibrant our business landscape is.”


About the judges

Simon Telfer (Convenor of the Judging Panel)

Simon currently serves as an independent director and advisory board member to a number of privately owned companies. He is well known in the NZ business community for his governance initiatives including Appoint Better Boards and Stimulus. He has appointed over 70 board members to New Zealand organisations and coached over 300 aspiring directors. Simon has lived and worked in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand but now happily resides in Wanaka.

Anne Urlwin

A chartered accountant, business consultant and professional director, Anne’s current Directorships include Chorus Ltd, Steel & Tube Holdings Ltd, Naylor Love and Summerset Group Holdings Ltd. Anne is also Deputy Chairman of Southern Response Earthquake Services Ltd (formerly AMI Insurance). Anne has considerable business experience – her former roles include Chairman of Lakes Environmental Ltd and the New Zealand Blood Service, and serving as a Director of Meridian Energy Ltd and Airways Corporation NZ Ltd.

Anne is a Wanaka resident.

Bill Day

Bill started his multi-million-dollar business, Seaworks, in 1979 as a commercial dive company. Today Bill's marine contracting company has its own fleet of vessels. The company lays under-sea cables, runs underwater robots, salvages sunken vessels, inspects oil rigs around the world and, more recently, has managed the marine work for Steven Spielberg movies. Bill Day was chosen as Winner of Ernst & Young's New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year in September 2000 and in 2002 he returned to Monaco as one of the judges for the 2002 World Entrepreneur of the Year competition. Bill resides in Wanaka.

Giselle McLachlan

Giselle is a director and a lawyer, with business experience from a variety of perspectives. She lives in Tarras and commutes to Christchurch most weeks, where she is General Manager of commercial and agri-business law firm Tavendale + Partners. Giselle has served on a number of boards, including the H&J Smith Group and local start up Insiteful. She enjoys helping people and businesses to grow and succeed.


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