Recognising business innovation and resilience in Palmerston North and Manawatū

Manawatū-Whanganui Region
Update on COVID-19 regional economic impact
3 December 2020
Manawatū economy stronger than rest of Aotearoa
18 December 2020

This year, the Westpac Choose Manawatū Business Awards celebrated resilience and innovation throughout the region, with 10 awards handed out last Friday evening.

Linda Stewart, CEO of the Central Economic Development Agency’s (CEDA) says that it is heart-warming to see such a fantastic turnout at the event, with a record number of entries together with excellence in business performance.

“I can truly say, this is Manawatū! We are known for our community spirit. That is what we are good at, that is who we are,” Stewart says. “Each of us have felt the effects of this challenging environment we have found ourselves in over the past 12 months and I am incredibly proud of how our region has come together with renewed strength and commitment.”

During the night we were reminded how fortunate we are, not just to have the ability, but the opportunity to come together, in person to mark the end of 2020 with an uplifting event that recognises the hard mahi and mana of our people.

With eight award category winners, three honourable mentions and two special award winners – the awards saw businesses from a range of industries represented.

The event was held at Massey University Sport and Rugby Institute and more than 330 members of the business community attended. Shane Cortese, MC’d the non-traditional business awards. With a year like never, we decided that the awards needed to reflect this, celebrating our business community, seeing out 2020 in true Manawatū style, with an evening focussed on kai and connections.

Feedback from the winners

“It was a year to remember. For us, it has been a year of learning, growth, and development. The award demonstrates how our people, practices and culture contribute to our business success through innovative thinking planning and evaluation of impact. What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.” Team DCPower – proud winners of the UCOL Talent with Innovation category.

I have travelled and lived all over the world, but I have finally found my people, here in Manawatū.” Mark Piper, Director Category, Strategy and Innovation at Fonterra. With 40 different ethnicities and 14 different languages the team at Fonterra is a culturally diverse.

When thanked for Toyota’s contribution to the region. John Fowke, Toyota says: “To be honest, the region contributed lot more to Toyota.”

“Huge thanks to our team, our customers and the team who put the great night together. Also, a shout out to all businesses out there who have weathered one of the most remarkable years in history.” – Earshots

The Awards saw an almost 80 per cent increase in entries across the board from the 2018 awards, plus an additional 270 nominations for the People’s Choice category.

“We would like to thank those who made the awards possible, our naming sponsor, Westpac, category sponsors and all our generous sponsors and judges who backed our business community and made it possible to shed light on the businesses who have shown leadership and innovation during an exceptionally challenging time,” Stewart concludes.


Congratulations to our 2020 Winners 


Westpac Supreme Award

Winner: OBO


ETECH Excellence in Innovation Award

Winner: Fonterra Research & Development Centre

Highly commended: Tahi Spirulina


UCOL Innovation with Talent Award

Winner: DCPower Batteries


Business Central & Business NZ Emerging Business Award

Winner: Earshots

Highly commended: Little Savanna


Welcoming Communities Inclusive Business Award

Winner: Fonterra Research & Development Centre


Te Au Rangahau & Poutama Māori Business Award

Winner: BioFarm


Manawatū Standard Spirit of Manawatū Award

Winner: OBO

Highly commended: Just Zilch


Manawatū District Council Lifetime Service Award

Alistair Davis


MediaWorks People’s Choice Award

Winner: OraKinetics Clinic


Trusted Advisor Network Excellence in a Marketing Campaign Award

Winner: The Herb Farm