[As published in Jan/Feb BayBuzz magazine.]

Nature threw a huge challenge at us in 2023. Nevertheless Hawke’s Bay individuals and companies continued to excel. They’re our Hawke’s Bay Champions. Not only because BayBuzz thinks so, but because they have been recognised by their peers, awards committees and judges over the past year.


Firstly, our region, its provenance:
• Hawke’s Bay has been named a Great Wine Capital of the world, which is a global network of the world’s greatest wine regions. Only 12, including Bordeaux and the Napa Valley.

F.A.W.C! Legend:
• Kim Thorp, Black Barn Kim’s longstanding dedication to establishing Hawke’s Bay’s reputation as NZ’s premier food and wine destination saw him named the 2022 F.A.W.C! Hawke’s Bay Legend. He joins F.A.W.C’s inaugural legend, Sir Graeme Avery.

2023 Cuisine Good Food Awards

• Central Fire Station Bistro best regional restaurant.

Over 80 restaurants were also awarded the title of hatted restaurants, reserved for the very best restaurants across the country, three hats being the highest rating.

• Pacifica: three hats, one of just six restaurants in NZ to be so awarded. 

• Central Fire Station Bistro and • Craggy Range Restaurant: two hats • Black Barn Bistro: one hat

Hospitality NZ Awards for Excellence

Best Chef: Casey McDonald, Craggy Range

Best Fine Dining: Craggy Range

Beef + Lamb NZ 

Recognised nine HB restaurants as among the best in beef and lamb cuisine in the country: • Emporium Eatery and Bar• Estuary’s Restaurant• Fox on the Quay• The Gintrap Cafe and Bar • Mint Restaurant• Mission Estate Winery Restaurant • Black Barn Bistro• St George’s Restaurant• Wallingford Homestead 

World Steak Challenge

Of the 450 entries from 28 countries, First Light Foods won a gold medal for its ribeye steak.

NZ Bacon & Ham Awards 

Supreme Winner, Wild Game in both bacon and ham categories. No company has ever taken both Supreme awards before. 

The Great NZ Sausage Competition 

• The Classic Butcher won Bronze for their Pork

• Waipawa Butchery won Silver for the Cheese and Jalapeno Kransky and Bronze for their Beef.

Outstanding Food Producer Awards – Life+Leisure 

• Matangi Angus Beef won gold for their tomahawk, silver for their flatiron.

NZ Champion of Cheese Awards

• Hōpeha won golds for its artisan organic Vintage and Danbo cheeses, plus taking home the Countdown Sustainability Award as part of the Cheese competition.

Brewers Guild of New Zealand Beer Awards

• Brave Brewery won Best IPA beer plus 12 other silver and bronze medals.

• Brewing Work (bStudio) in Napier – Champion New Zealand Manufacturer (contract brewing)

Silver Fern Farms 

HB Farmer of the Year – CHB’s Hugh Ritchie

2023 Ahuwhenua Young Māori Grower

• Grace Rehu, 21, is a Leading Hand for Turners and Growers in Puketapu. 


2023 Forsyth Barr Hawke’s Bay Sport and Recreation Awards

Recognises outstanding achievements from grassroots to elite level. 

Master Sportsperson of the Year:• Lance Baylis, Powerlifting

Lifetime Contribution to Sport:

Mike Trautvetter, Rowing;

Terry O’Neill, Football

Emerging Sportsperson:

Emma Findlay, Hockey

Junior Team of the Year:

Taradale High School Golf Team 

Senior Team of the Year:

Hawke’s Bay Tui, Rugby Union 

Disabled Sportsperson of the Year: • Peter Cowan, Canoe Racing 

Senior Sportsperson of the Year: • Emma Twigg, Rowing 

HB Supreme Award:• Emma Twigg, Rowing

Unison Medal Ceremonies

In annual ceremony recognised over 590 young netball, hockey, football and rugby players. 


• Hastings’ James Fergusson won the North Island Masters, one of the biggest wins by a HB player in the sport. 

Speedway Racing 

Bradley Wilson-Dean from Napier won the USA National Open final.

Surf Life Saving NZ

• Hawke’s Bay Search and Rescue (SAR) squad won Rescue of the Year, and Jess Bennett, HB SAR co-ordinator at Ocean Beach Kiwi Surf Life Saving Club, won DHL Volunteer of the Year.


• Napier Boys’ High School Year 12 team tasted great success at the Junior World Series indoor cricket tournament in Dubai. Seven Hawke’s Bay players were spread across the New Zealand sides, with Andrew Rawnsley and Ollie Beale on the team that won the under-18 boys’ final.


EVANZ National Awards

These awards represent over 120 entertainment venues throughout NZ

• Toitoi won Small Venue of the Year

• Dane Fletcher from Toitoi won Team Member of the Year

• Lara Paaymans from Toitoi, finalist, Rising Star of Year

• Glen Pickering from Toitoi, finalist, Team Leader of Year

• Charity Norman was honoured with a Ngaio Marsh Award for her latest novel, Remember Me

• Cristina Sanders’ latest book Mrs Jewell and the Wreck of General Grant – shortlisted for the Ockham Awards.

• Te Whānau Puoro from Flaxmere College and Tamatea High School won the Smokefree Tangata Beats national final. 

Resene Architectural Design Awards 

• Heretaunga Intermediate’s technology block was one of two projects to be awarded the 2023 Supreme Award. Designer Darryl Church of DCA Architects of Transformation was recognised for his work on the project.

Taotiara Excellence Awards

These awards recognise architectural excellence within the local government sector.

• Beca Award for Placemaking category The 10-year regeneration of Hastings East Block, including the Toitoi Municipal Building restoration project, won the top award in Placemaking category. 

Master Builders NZ – House of the Year – Central NI/East Coast and Hawke’s Bay 

• Davcon New Home over $4 million – for a home in Patanga, plus Interior Design Award and Kitchen Excellence Award

• Gearey Homes New Home $500,000 – $750,000 – for a home in Taradale

• Geary Homes took a Gold Award for a Taradale home

• Design Builders (HB) New Home $750,000 – $1 million for a home in Havelock North

• Inspired Projects took a Silver Award for a home in Bayview, Napier

• Jennian Homes Hawke’s Bay took a Silver Award for a home in Awatoto


ASB Hawke’s Bay Export Awards 2023

• Sentor Boats Best Emerging Business

• Pultron Composites Best Established Business

• T&G Global and Animals Like Us: Excellence in Innovation 

• Sally Gallagher, Apollo Food: Inspiring Women in Export Award 

• Wisewool Judges’ Choice Award

• Unsung Heroes:Danny and Marilyn Bearsley, Bearsley Exports; Robyn Brady, Pure Kiwi International; Cameron Taylor, Taylor Corp

The Datacom Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce Business Awards 

• Kahu Scaffolding – Best Emerging Business

• Topline Contracting – Outstanding Social Impact Award

• Your Decal Shop – Excellence in Sustainability

• Tākaro Trails Cycle Tours – Resilient Business Award

• Wayfinder – Excellence in Innovation 

• O’Briasco Bridal Boutique – Ultimate Visitor Experience Award

• Waylyn Tahuri-Whaipakanga – Leader of the Year Award

• Topline Contracting – Supreme Business Award

New Zealand Airports Association Awards 

Hawke’s Bay Airport won:

• Medium Airport of the Year Sustainability Initiative of the Year (medium airport) 

• Customer Engagement Initiative of the Year (medium airport) – for the airport’s Cyclone Gabrielle community response.

Now won Consumer NZ’s People’s Choice Award for Internet service

Civil Contractors NZ Hirepool Construction Excellence Awards

• 6 Wharf ‘Te Whiti’ at Napier Port, handled by HEB Construction, won the national award for projects with a value of greater than $100 million

• Fulton Hogan awarded for exceeding response expectations in the Hastings District following the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle 

Outdoor Fabric Products Association of NZ Awards

• Georgie Fry at Douglas Outdoor & Textile Innovation, Hastings awarded Apprentice of the Year.


NCC Cyclone Gabrielle Recognition Awards

NCC replaced its annual civic awards to instead specifically recognise the outstanding contributions of individuals and community groups during Cyclone Gabrielle. These people performed rescues, prepared thousands of meals, provided shelter in their homes and businesses, organised and volunteered for weeks of clean-up, supplied mental health support, raised money, contributed supplies, trade equipment & services, kept people connected with information, looked after pets, horses livestock, organised helicopter & plane drops, set up community hubs for distribution of vital provisions. Whew!

  • Keith Bartleet & Hugh Mackay 
  • Claire Connor 
  • Mary Danielson 
  • Troy Duncan 
  • Peter Eden 
  • Brenda Ferguson 
  • Bill & Gabriella Henderson 
  • Michael Helliwell 
  • Cathy Herries and Julie King 
  • Rose Hiha 
  • Sean Hughes 
  • Amelia Kaui 
  • Damien Kelly 
  • Rikki Kihi 
  • Greg Miller 
  • Greg & Lorna Morice 
  • Mohinder Nagra 
  • Neeracha (Neela Neela) Rattanaworametha 
  • Rikki Reed Davis 
  • Nancye Rewi 
  • Sammie-Jo Smaling 
  • Todd Smith 
  • Richard Stevenson 
  • Quent and Mel Swayn 
  • Mike Teddy 
  • Lee Walmsley 
  • Bay View Fire Brigade 
  • Cyclone Hawke’s Bay Help
  • Equippers Church
  • Kings House Church 
  • Napier Riding For Disabled (RDA) 
  • The Rapid Relief Team 
  • Re-Source HB

HDC Civic Honours:

• Wiki Mulholland (posthumous) was an advocate for young people throughout her life, and for better access to cancer drugs

• Linda Ward is nvolved in Country Women’s Institute, Playcentre, the primary school, and other activities ranging from compiling a fundraising recipe book to writing a historical book about the school

• Pamela Thomson is staunch supporter of Keirunga Artists for more than 20 years

• Keita Tuhi and John Matthews have shared their knowledge of the oral history of Kahungunu over the past 40 years plus their expertise with flax weaving (raranga). 

• Anthony Dench has worked nearly 40 years as a volunteer fire brigade volunteer

• Patricia Kerei a long-standing and valued member of Age Concern Flaxmere

• Robert Smith is a leading member of a local group fighting to eradicate the invasive weed species, Moth Plant

• NZ Sikh Society of Hastings assists the community in many ways from providing free food parcels to those in need every Sunday, to running Punjabi language classes. 

• Hawke’s Bay Surf Lifesaving SAR Squad are on call 24/7 to assist with rescues. It’s estimated they rescued more than 190 people and many family pets in the first 48 hours of the cyclone.

Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero of the Year Award:

Hawke’s Bay has 11 hero medallists who are finalists at this point in the selection process.

• Alastair Needes is known to many as The Dogman for his unique skill in training, rescuing, and rehoming dogs.

• Amanda Withers has volunteered countless hours to help build a stronger, more resilient rural community through education, health, sport and the environment. 

• Amelia Kaui the Hostel Manager of Hukarere Girls College, was instrumental in intiating the evacuation of the school just hours before deadly flooding. 

• Isabelle Crawshaw community champion stepping up for the response and recovery effort in Pātoka, cut off from the rest of HB by road, with no electricity and limited communications.

• Kristyl Neho founded Maia Dreams, a Foundation that has impacted over 6,000 lives, empowering young people to be their best selves. A Māori wahine, actress, director, speaker, writer, single mother, and rangatahi advocate.

• Lyn Gordon manages a self-funded initiative, ‘Donations for Families in Need’, helping countless families across the Wairoa community. 

• Maia Tipene stepped up as a volunteer with Taskforce Kiwi (TFK), spending four weeks on the ground post-cyclone, assisting in debris clearance, welfare assessments, aid delivery, even providing medical expertise. 

• Neela Neela she cooked and distributed over 700+ meals a day, offering them for free to families affected by the disaster. 

• Syed Khurram Iqbal is a Pakistani professional has helped migrant and refugee communities, particularly those from Middle Eastern and Shia Muslim backgrounds, integrate into New Zealand life.

• Tim Hunter was an integral part of Taradale’s Atawhai retirement village community. For over forty years, Tim volunteered as a handyman maintaining the village and offering friendship and a listening ear to residents.

• Troy Duncan demonstrated heroism during Cyclone Gabrielle by saving lives, rescuing neighbours with an inflatable boat. In the aftermath, he took the lead in organizing the Pakowhai community. 

• Hōhepa Hawke’s Bay continued their habit of winning awards. Inclusive and Diverse Workplace Award in the 2023 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards. Food for Good Award at the National Sustainable Business Awards. 

Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners 

Nominated by their peers, the Community Service Medals recognise members of the College who have made an outstanding contribution to general practice through work in their communities. Hawke’s Bay Awardees:

• Dr Penny Henley has been a GP and a medical educator in Taradale 

• Dr Bob Stephens recently retired as a GP teacher, but still works as a dedicated GP in Waipukurau. 

WHO Age-friendly Cities and Communities

• Napier has joined a small group of cities around the world to be named a member of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities. 

Local Government New Zealand 

• Hastings District Council was named the winner of the SuperCollab Award and winner of the Supreme Award, for the Kuhu Mai initiative – a collaboration between Council, Hastings Church (via its Connect Community Trust), and Anglican Care Waiapu. 


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