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Next Woman of the Year Winners Revealed

Next Woman of the Year Winners Revealed

It was a night of celebration for New Zealand women at the NEXT Woman of the Year Awards, in association with Elizabeth Arden. Six winners were honoured for the varied and individual contributions they have made both at home and abroad, making history and transforming the lives of those in need. The standout finalist, who has been crowned Woman of the Year 2017, is Kristine Bartlett.

Back in 2012 aged-care worker Kristine, supported by her union, took a case against her employer over her low pay. She argued that since the overwhelming majority of workers in her sector were women, the low wages were a result of gender bias. While her E tū union launched the case on her behalf, the idea was to achieve a judicial decision that would prompt a sector-wide pay hike. And they were successful. In May this year the government unveiled a $2.06 billion settlement giving more than 55,000 caregivers in aged residential care, home support, and disability services a pay rise of between 15 and 50%.

Kristine has been hailed a hero, but for her there was a never a choice. “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.’”

Kristine won the Supreme Woman of the Year award, as well as the Community category. Kiwi businesswoman Theresa Gattung was named the inaugural winner of a Lifetime Achievement Award. The other five category winners were:

Arts & Culture: Carla van Zon – Carla has been a pivotal figure on the Kiwi arts scene for decades. Dubbed ‘Aunty Carla’ by those in the industry, she has been an indefatigable champion of Māori and Pasifika work, and has seen huge success in winning wider, and younger, audiences to art – especially in her role as artistic director of the Auckland Arts Festival and International Arts Festival in Wellington.

Business & Innovation: Ranjna Patel – It was a desire to widen access to healthcare that prompted Ranjna and her husband to co-found East Tamaki Healthcare in South Auckland. Forty years on, East Tamaki Healthcare is now Nirvana Health Group, with 35 clinics across three cities, 4000 clients a day and 1.2 million visits a year. Ranjna is also a key player in her community, building a Hindu temple and founding a centre to counsel men who commit domestic violence.

Education: Dame Wendy Pye – The owner of Sunshine Books founded her international publishing empire on one core belief: that literacy is a way out of poverty. Dame Wendy has spent the past 35 years helping millions of children to read. And now, rather than settling into a well-deserved retirement, she is busy working on her next project: The Sunshine Super Reader, a solar-powered digital tablet pre-loaded with hundreds of e-books for children around the world with little or no access to literature .

Health & Science: Dr Melanie Cheung – The Auckland University research fellow is leading the world-first research project ‘FightHD’, which aims to help delay and potentially reverse cognitive decline for those at risk of Huntington’s disease. The 41-year-old’s determination to succeed is summed up by one remark; when she couldn’t find what she needed to help cure degenerative brain diseases, she said, “I might just have to invent a new type of science”.

Sport: Heather Te Au-Skipworth – Heather is co-founder and CEO of IronMāori, the world’s only annual indigenous half-Ironman triathlon. Her aim from the outset was not just to motivate her clients to adopt a healthier lifestyle, but uniquely to create a safe space for those who don’t fit the traditional ‘sporty’ stereotype – especially those battling weight issues. “With my clients, the average weight would have been 100-150kg. They felt self-conscious. I wanted something where it didn’t matter what size, shape or form you are.”


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 sponsored by Elizabeth Arden.

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