Success and leadership within the co-operative business sector celebrated at the Annual Awards

By Cooperative Business New Zealand | February 2022
The Cooperative Business NZ Annual Awards, which recognise outstanding leadership and success within the co-operative business sector, were announced earlier in the month as an online awards ceremony.

The Cooperative Business NZ Annual Awards, which recognise outstanding leadership and success within the co-operative business sector, were announced earlier in the month via an online awards ceremony. 

After postponing the in-person event several times since 2021, Cooperative Business NZ Chief Executive Roz Henry says while it wasn’t the way we wanted to recognise these fantastic leaders and businesses, there was still much to celebrate. 

“These awards are a fantastic way to recognise all the great work that these winners do to support the lives and livelihoods of New Zealanders” 

This year’s Awards saw a significant increase in nominations, and the calibre of nominees was exceptional. It is clear that New Zealand’s member-owned businesses are at the forefront of innovation and are continuing to contribute so much to our country, our economy, our communities and our people. This made our judges’ task incredibly challenging.”

“I would like to thank all of our members and sponsors, Anderson Lloyd and LBMX, for making it such a fantastic, albeit virtual, event. A special thank you as well to our Independent Judging Panel – Dr Lisa Callagher, Alastair Hercus and Phil McKendry – for giving their time to judge the awards once again this year,” Roz says.

The winners from the evening were as follows. 


The Co-operative Business of the Year Award is presented to a member business that has made a significant and positive impact within the co-operative and local community.

NZPM was recognised with this prestigious award for its considerable growth and resilient and sustainable performance over the past year. What stood out in their winning nomination was their evidence of ‘walking the talk’ of the co-operative principles and the initiatives they’ve worked on to support this.

This included their work in implementing a Social Responsibility Plan Initiative; their influence on key ethical and sustainable purchasing behaviours; engagement in the education and training space; their commitment to the next generation in the plumbing industry; and community fundraising efforts.

Roz says, “NZPM is living and breathing the co-operative guiding principles. Their work over the past year, supporting their members and the wider community, has put them in good stead to continue to deliver on their strategy going forward.”


The Co-operative Leader of the Year Award is presented to an individual who has shown significant co-operative leadership as well as vision and courage for the co-operative model.

LIC Chief Executive Wayne McNee was recognised for facilitating a significant amount of positive change for the co-operative from 2013–2021.

During his tenure, LIC’s strategy evolved twice to ensure shareholders are at its heart – a shift away from the sole revenue-focused past. Wayne was integral in driving these refinements. He reported yet another strong financial result in 2021 for the fourth consecutive year. Wayne drove many major initiatives which contributed to this including the automation of herd testing laboratories, and the implementation of new advanced DNA technology.

“Wayne consistently championed the need for LIC’s strategy to be grounded in actual measurable outcomes for their farmer shareholders. He left the business in really good shape and really good heart. His leadership has been second-to-none.”


The Emerging Business of the Year award celebrates a co-operative that has been in operation for five years or under, celebrating the work they are doing to ensure their long-term success, viability and contribution to the co-operative community. 

ProCare, New Zealand’s largest and most diverse co-operative of healthcare professionals, was recognised for its strong drive and action in transitioning from a corporate to a co-operative. After the formal transition in 2019, ProCare moved quickly to bring the co-operative vision to life.

The co-operative has already built partnerships with other members, such as Southern Cross Health Care Society; returned crucial funding to their network members at a time they needed it most; deployed Employment Plus, a dedicated HR service; and delivered bespoke training solutions for registered nurses as a result of member feedback.

Roz says, “ProCare’s work in transforming into a co-operative, followed by walking the talk as one, has allowed their practices to thrive and even better serve their patients and communities.”

Emerging Leader of the Year: Ben Ross, Branch Manager (Wellington), MG Marketing

The Emerging Leader of the Year recognises an individual (under 35) who is making their mark within their member organisation.

“A stand-out with Ben is how he shaped the way his branch achieves targets – recognising that the traditional approach of ‘just selling more produce’ wasn’t going to make a significant impact or achieve the best outcomes for grower-members,” says Roz. Ben implemented innovative communication cycles which allow his staff to feedback, resulting in continuous improvement across grower-member engagement, customer service and efficiency. 

Roz says, “Ben’s commitment to MG Marketing is impressive, having started there as a high school student in 2008. We look forward to seeing where his journey continues to take him. The MG Marketing team and the co-operative community is very lucky to have him.”

Outstanding Contribution to Co-operatives: Graeme Sutton, Chair, Provelco

The Outstanding Co-operative Contribution Award recognises individuals who have contributed significantly to the success of the co-operative sector in New Zealand over the long term.

Graeme Sutton was recognised for his long history of working with co-operative businesses to advance the position of farmers. Currently the Chair of Provelco, Graeme was nominated for his dedication to the sector over the past three decades. 

Graeme’s first directorship was at Ravensdown in 1987 and since then he has served on the boards of seven different farmer co-operatives.

Roz says, “Graeme has always been a champion for the co-operative model in New Zealand, and seeks long-run benefits for the business and community organisations he’s been involved in. Thank you for your long-term service to the sector over all these years.”

Enduring Service Award: Fonterra celebrates 150 years

Fonterra was presented with their Enduring Service Award

“Last year, the co-operative celebrated 150 years since their founding group formed. This pioneering co-operative is part of what we now know today as Fonterra, and it’s an honour to be here 150 years later presenting an Enduring Service Award to the team,” says Roz.

“They are committed to ensuring farming in New Zealand continues for generations, and are doing all they can to ensure they farm in a way that regenerates their farms and the environment.  Together, Fonterra has been creating ‘good’ across New Zealand for 150 years. This Enduring Service Award can attest to the fact that this co-operative is truly an intergenerational, thriving and sustainable business – and it’s only going to continue.”

Enduring Service Award: 100 years celebrated by Medical Assurance Society

MAS (Medical Assurance Society) was presented with an Enduring Service Award for its 100 years of service. They celebrated this fantastic milestone in March 2021.

Founded in 1921 by four doctors in Napier, just as New Zealand emerged from WWI and the Spanish flu pandemic, it’s rather fitting that they are now celebrating their 100 years in the midst of another pandemic.

Roz says, “As you would expect from a business set up by doctors, MAS are all about serving their community. To have reached 100 years and counting, there is no doubt that they’re excelling in this.  

“They often describe themselves as being  ‘here for good’ and we couldn’t agree more. It was an honour to present them with this Enduring Service Award.”  

The full awards ceremony and speeches can be watched HERE. 


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