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Entries open for Wanaka’s prestigious business awards

Wanaka’s most anticipated business event returns this year with some exciting new changes and an element of mystery.

The countdown to the biennial Ignite Wanaka Business Awards in partnership with Milford Asset Management begins this week, with entries opening at 9am today (Wednesday, September 11).

This year’s prestigious local Business Awards sees the announcement of a new category, new judge and new convenor of the independent judging panel. The glitzy gala dinner will also be held at a secret location, which is expected to further increase interest towards the popular event.

Wanaka start-ups and people in their first year in business have the chance to win the brand-new Young Enterprise category, sponsored by Air New Zealand. The winner receives return flights to Auckland to spend the day with some of Air New Zealand’s leadership team, tailored to suit the winning business.

“Start-ups often struggle in the first year with both costs and direction, so having the chance to spend a day learning from the Air New Zealand management team is a huge opportunity to learn from one of the world’s most innovative brands,” says Frank Gibbons, Air New Zealand regional senior account manager for Otago/Southland.

The independent judging panel, comprising four high-profile and successful local businesspeople, will be headed by new convenor Wayne Hudson. Hudson was a member of the locally-based panel in 2017. He has spent the past 30 years focusing on the technology sector and is also a trustee of Startup Queenstown Lakes and Alpine Community Development Trust, as well as being a mentor for several small business owners in Wanaka.

Former Queenstown Chamber of Commerce CEO Ann Lockhart, who lives in the Cardrona Valley, is the judging panel’s newest addition. Lockhart has 20 years’ experience in senior management roles across both the private and public sector. She is currently CEO for Great South, Southland’s newly-established Regional Development Agency, and a member of the board for Destination Queenstown.

Hudson and Lockhart are joined by returning judges Mark Verbiest, Chair of Freightways and Meridian Energy and Trustee of the Festival of Colour and the Southern Alps Rescue Trust; and professional director Anne Urlwin, Deputy Chairman of Southern Response Earthquake Services and the Independent Chairman of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu’s Audit & Risk Committee.

“The Ignite Wanaka Business Awards is a great way of getting the business community together to celebrate success,” Hudson says. “Entering the Awards give businesses the chance to think about what they do well, where they’re going and how they intend to make a difference. Past finalists and category winners have genuinely benefitted by the opportunity – not only have people loved being involved in the process, it has boosted their confidence and further improved the possibility of business and personal success.”

The People’s Choice category, supported by the Wanaka App, has had a re-vamp for 2019. As part of the judging process, the judges will shortlist the businesses they feel contribute the most to the Upper Clutha community. The finalists will then be profiled in the Wanaka App and all members in the community can vote for their favourite, with the winner being announced in front of a packed venue at the gala dinner.

The 2016 and 2017 Ignite Wanaka Business Awards attracted more than 220 entries each year from across the Upper Clutha community, with almost 50 finalists shortlisted and 18 businesses crowned winners in their field of expertise. Puzzling World took out the Supreme award in 2016 and Cardrona Alpine Resort grabbed the crown in 2017.

“It’s hard to believe the last Awards were two years ago. We’re excited to once again be showcasing the best of business in our town and are thankful to the amazing local judges for giving their time and expertise,” says Ignite Wanaka Board chair Bridget Legnavsky.

“We also couldn’t host the event without the support of our sponsors and suppliers, many of whom are returning for the third time round. A big thanks to our naming sponsor Milford Asset Management and category sponsors Ray White Wanaka, Westpac, Queenstown and Wanaka airports, Lake Wanaka Tourism and Air New Zealand, plus all our other supporters.

“Get ready, get excited and enter. It’s such a worthwhile exercise digging into your business,” she adds.

What you need to know:
• Entries close at 5pm on Monday 21 October, 2019.
• Finalists will be announced at the Ignite Wanaka Chamber AGM on November 6. The Awards gala dinner is on Friday, 29 November at a secret location.
• There is no cost to enter the awards, which are open to all businesses in the Upper Clutha that have been trading for at least two years (aside from the Startup category which is for businesses in their first year in operation). All entries are completely confidential and only viewed by the independent judging panel.
• Further details and application forms will be available on from 9am on September 11.

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