News 6 Nov 2017
Businesses, business leaders and entrepreneurs have been recognised and celebrated at the inaugural Tonga Business Excellence Dinner.
New Zealand Tonga Business Council (NZTBC) Vice Chairperson Rachel Afeaki-Taumoepeau welcomed guests on behalf of Chair Sione Taufa to the Council’s signature event, staged at Auckland’s Alexandra Park last week.
Sione has been selected to be part of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) –a professional exchange which entails short-term visits to the United States by current and emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields and is in the USA.
The purpose of the Tonga Business Excellence Dinner was to identify and celebrate the cross-section of businesses, entrepreneurs and leaders who have been impacting and influencing at community, regional, national and international levels between New Zealand and Tonga, Rachel says.
“These businesses and leaders are inspiring even more business, trade and investment bilaterally,” she adds.
Held two days ahead of Tonga National Day on November 4, the dinner also doubled as an occasion to embrace and celebrate Tonga’s heritage.
Since its formal launch in 2011, NZTBC has celebrated Tonga National Day by celebrating business, Rachel says.
“In 2011 with Digicel we celebrated, 2014 with Pacific Business Trust we celebrated, 2015 the Council celebrated with Her Royal Highness Princess Royal Pilolevu Tuita and today – 2017 – the Inaugural Tonga Business Excellence Dinner recognises and celebrates businesses, business leaders and entrepreneurs across six categories.”
The categories are Women in Business; Business Corporate Executives; Exporters from Tonga NZ Mainstream Business into Tonga; Business Entrepreneurs and Social Enterprises with the special recognition Tongan Navigators in Entrepreneurship and Leadership.
“We believe it’s important to identify and celebrate business excellence and the impact these recipients are having across both New Zealand and Tonga, and how they shape our future relations between the two countries,” Rachel adds.
Guest speakers Hon Aupito Sua William Sio – Minister of Pacific Peoples and Hon Jenny Salesa, the Minister of Building and Construction, and Ethnic Communities and NZ’s first Tonga-born Tongan-speaking Minister attended the event to celebrate with the award recipients as follows:
Women in Business: Emeline Afeaki-Mafileo (Affirming Works, Fofola Consultancy, Tupu'anga Coffee); Eithne Curran (Eithne Curran); Kimberley Ramsay-Reid; and Jennifer Boggiss (Heilala Vanilla).
Business Executive: Jack Bourke (Digicel International); Rachel Skudder (BEST Training); Debbie Sorrenson (Pacific Futures); Saia Latu (Trow Group).
Exporter from Tonga: Heilala Vanilla (Jennifer Boggiss); Nishi Trading (Minoru Nishi); Tinopai (Pousima Afeaki); Tupu'anga Coffee (Albert Mafileo).
NZ Mainstream Business into Tonga: Alrite Steel & Service Ltd (Bhaskar Sharma); Pacific Direct Line (Alan Foote); Fonterra (Eun Hee Park); Scenic Hotel (Leigh Lewis).
Businessmen Entrepreneurs: Butch Riechelmann (BR & Associates Ltd); Vaine Niuhulu (Coin Total Upgrade); Maka Pailate; Matt Bourke (Th1nk Project Ltd).
Social Enterprise: Langimalie Clinic (Dr Glen Doherty); Affirming Works (Emeline Afeaki—Mafileo); Dr Simione Lolohea (Surgeons on Clarence).
Special Recognition -
Business Entrepreneur Navigator: Lopi Faleafa (Faleafa Investments Consultancy Ltd).
Business Leadership Navigator: Leopino Foliaki (PWC).
Meanwhile, Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) Programme Development Manager for PCF Leaupepe Taala Ralph Elika attended the event on behalf of the Foundation.
“This event recognised business and commercial excellence and PCF was proud to be there as a supporter – it was a truly inspirational evening,” Ralph says.
The NZTBC Executive has thanked its sponsors on making the event a huge success, as well as the Tonga Business Excellence advisory panel of Rachel Afeaki-Taumoepeau, Michael Greenslade, Shazad Ibnul, Charlotte Kelly and Seifta Haouli, who had the challenging task of assessing a high calibre of recommended names and businesses.
The Council also acknowledged its ex-officio executive members Tonga Consulate, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and regional economic agency executive members, Pacific Trade Invest and PCF.
Visit NZTBC for more information.