Tuesday, 10th August, 2021

Entries open for Wānaka’s prestigious business awards

Wānaka businesses are encouraged to reflect on resilience and innovation as a measure of success after a challenging fiscal year, with the launch of the Ignite Wānaka Business Awards.

Entries to the highly anticipated Ignite Wānaka Business Awards supported by Milford Asset Management are open, alongside the announcement of three new categories and two new judges to the independent judging panel.
The biennial awards provide an opportunity for local businesses to be recognised for their achievements, innovation, diversification and success across a broad range of categories, culminating in a glitzy awards dinner in November (date and other details to be announced).
Ignite Wānaka Chamber of Commerce is looking for outstanding businesses to enter the following categories: Tourism; Individual; Innovation; Trades & Infrastructure; Sustainability; Professional Services; Retail; Hospitality; People’s Choice and Young Enterprise (less than two years in operation). New categories are Outstanding Employer, Outstanding Not-for-Profit or Social Enterprise and Outstanding in Resilience and Diversification. Hospitality and Retail, previously one category, have now been separated into two separate categories. All finalists have the opportunity to be crowned the supreme winner.
The independent judging panel is convened by Wayne Hudson, who is joined by fellow returning judge Ann Lockhart. Two new judges are local business advisers Charlie James and Meg Taylor.
Hudson says: “2021 will be a very interesting year for the Ignite Wānaka Business Awards. I’m looking forward to seeing how businesses have coped with the challenges imposed by the pandemic, the lockdowns and the closing of our international borders.
"I am not expecting every business to have had a financially ‘successful’ year. Instead, survival in these turbulent times will in many cases be a success in itself. Learning how businesses have managed to survive and what they did to adapt should be very interesting."
Ignite Wānaka general manager Naomi Lindsay says: "It's been an uncertain 18 months for many in our business community, but the courage, tenacity and creativity with which businesses have tackled the pandemic has been nothing short of inspiring. We encourage businesses from all sectors to do a deep dive into their business, using the application forms as a guide, to unearth the great things they've achieved in the last two years."
Milford Asset Management has backed the Ignite Wānaka Business Awards since its inception in 2016. Manager Andrew MacKenzie says: “Milford is delighted to once again partner with Ignite Wānaka for the Business Awards and we encourage all Wanaka businesses to enter then come together to celebrate success. During these uncertain times, it is even more important for the business community to support each other.”
Entry forms are available online at https://www.ignitewanaka.co.nz/events-training/ignite-wanaka-awards/. Entries close at 5pm on October 8, 2021.
Full list of Ignite Wānaka Business Awards categories:



Supreme Winner

Milford Asset Management

Outstanding in Tourism

Lake Wānaka Tourism

Outstanding Individual


Outstanding in Innovation

Aspiring Law

Outstanding in Trades & Infrastructure


Outstanding in Sustainability


Outstanding in Professional Services

Sponsorship available

Outstanding in Retail


Outstanding in Resilience and Diversification

TODD & Walker Law

People's Choice

Wanaka App 

Young Enterprise (less than two years in operation)

Air New Zealand 

Outstanding Employer


Outstanding Not for Profit or Social Enterprise

Queenstown Lakes District Council

Outstanding in Hospitality

Drive Accounting


Click here to download an image of the Ignite Wānaka Business Awards
About the independent judging panel
Wayne Hudson, Convenor
Wayne Hudson has spent the last 30 years focusing on the technology sector, advising clients on commercialising intellectual property, buying and selling tech businesses, capital-raising and structuring start-ups. He is a legal consultant through his company WHIPIT Ltd, which assists technology start-ups prepare for growth, investment and sale. Wayne is also a trustee of Startup Queenstown Lakes, Mt Barker Residents Association and Alpine Community Development Trust, as well as being a mentor for several small business owners in Wānaka through the Flying Kiwi advice clinics.
Ann Lockhart
With 22 years’ experience in senior management roles across both the public and private sectors, Ann Lockhart has played a significant role in growing New Zealand businesses. Previously CEO for the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce and CEO for Great South, Southland’s newly-established regional development agency, Ann has most recently been the acting CEO for Destination Queenstown. She was previously a member of the board for Destination Queenstown, a trustee of the Wakatipu Community Trust and former board member of the Otago Conservation Board. Ann is a disputes resolution mediator and resides in Wānaka.
Charlie James
After 20 years as an accountant focusing on business sale/purchase and litigation support, Charlie became a self-employed consultant focusing on strategy and in particular its execution (which increasingly morphed into life and business mentoring) for 10 years. Charlie then became an Angel Investor, initially joining Ice Angels, then in 2013 co-founded Flying Kiwi Angels (FKA), a NZ-based international angel investment group focused on Kiwi Startups) where until recently he chaired the Board. As part of angel investing and mentoring, Charlie has served on a variety of boards. For the five years since moving to Wānaka he has run FKA’s “Angelic Drop-In” Sessions (free business mentoring) in Wānaka and Queenstown with the support of other mentors and Startup Queenstown Lakes. He mentors several small businesses in the district.
Meg Taylor
Meg Taylor has had a varied career in small business ranging from retail and tourism to farming. She headed up marketing for Kathmandu at its inception in Australia (her husband John Pawson co-founded Kathmandu). Returning to New Zealand, Meg and John built a successful luxury lodge, Riverrun, near Wānaka. In 2010 Meg co-founded a tourism marketing group promoting activities, accommodation and destinations to inbound and offshore agents. Since selling the lodge in 2016 she has run a small merino sheep farm, focusing on fine wool production.

For more information, please contact:
Ignite Wānaka Chamber of Commerce general manager Naomi Lindsay
P: 027 295 3230
E: naomi@ignitewanaka.co.nz

NOTE: Media release provided by partner Scope Media