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Kono CEO awarded prestigious scholarship

Rachel Taulelei (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Rarua, Ngāti Koata), CEO of Kono.

Rachel Taulelei (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Rarua, Ngāti Koata), CEO of Kono, a Maori-owned, top 100 New Zealand food and drinks company, joins 13 other senior New Zealand executives and business owners as a recipient of a 2017 Prime Minister’s Business Scholarship. The Prime Minister’s Business Scholarships are aimed at managers and executives of New Zealand companies with an international focus, to fund study at world-class business schools. The scholarships are designed to improve the international competitiveness of businesses by providing access to top international business programmes unavailable in New Zealand.

“Receiving this prestigious scholarship is a tremendous recognition for Kono as one of New Zealand’s thriving and successful businesses,” Ms Taulelei says. “The scholarship will enable me to attend a leading international business school and connect with latest thinking on organisational excellence and leadership, and bring this knowledge back into the business. The opportunity to explore new models of business, social enterprise and networks will benefit Kono, and help us in our ongoing journey as we strive for excellence.”

 “A benefit of attending an international business programme is the ability to learn from and share experiences with other business leaders from all around the world. Kaitiakitanga (guardianship and legacy) is one of the core values that directs our business and our relationship with our environment. It will be interesting to learn how others are ensuring that their business practices are not only profitable, but are also right for people and the environment. At Kono, we recognise that wellness of our people is intrinsically linked to the wellbeing of our environment. Love for the land and respect for the sea must be ever present,” Ms Taulelei says.

 Rachel Taulelei has been the CEO of Kono NZ since 2015. Kono is a Maori-owned, top 100 New Zealand food and drinks company employing over 400 staff, farming over 530 hectares of land and sea, and exporting to over 25 countries. Their products include Tohu and Aronui wines, Kono mussels, Annies fruit bars, and Tutū cider.

Kono is an associated business of Wakatū Incorporation. Based in Nelson, Wakatū has approximately 4,000 shareholders who descend from the original Māori land owners of the Nelson, Tasman and Golden Bay Regions – Te Tau Ihu, the top of the South Island.

Whenua is the foundation of Wakatū’s business with 70% of assets held in Iand and waterspace. Wakatū manage a diverse portfolio from vineyards, orchards to residential properties, large retail developments, office buildings, marine farms and waterspace. Ms Taulelei plans to take up her scholarship in 2018.