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Rural business women recognised at awards

Rural business women recognised at awards
Rural Women New Zealand national president Gill Naylor (centre) with category winners Kylie Rae, Kathryn Wright, Laura Koot, Haylee-Chanel Simeon, Emma Hasler and Sophie Hurley. Credit: Claire Inkson

Hunterville farmer Sophie Hurley has won the Supreme Award at the NZI Rural Women Business Awards for her wool bag and luggage brand, Honest Wolf.

The award winner was announced at a gala dinner at the Rydges Hotel in Christchurch on November 24 as part of the Rural Women New Zealand National Conference.

Seven category winners were vying for the coveted award.

Rural Women New Zealand national president Gill Naylor said the awards were a chance to showcase the diversity of talent in rural communities.

"There's so many inspirational, entrepreneurial women out there in rural communities.

"Primary industry is a really important part of rural New Zealand, and there are so many other things happening out there.

"We really enjoy the opportunity to showcase some of that."

Hurley is the first winner of the Emerging Business Category to scoop the Supreme Award.

Naylor said Honest Wolf was an excellent example of rural enterprises' innovation, entrepreneurism and responsiveness to changing times.

"In seeking a solution to declining wool prices at the time that plastic bags were being phased out, Sophie and husband Sam saw an opportunity to use their wool to create a sustainable alternative and Honest Wolf was born."

Hurley was also praised for her relief efforts following the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle on the North Island East Coast after she added a donation button to the Honest Wolf website, which saw $90,000 raised for affected rural communities.

Hurley says the Awards are an essential opportunity for businesses to be recognised.

"It puts businesses on the map, and sharing that success with all this talent being showcased with the awards is awesome."

South Island shines at awards

Five out of the seven category winners in the 2023 NZI Rural Women's Awards are from the lower South Island.

Te Anau-based counsellor Kathryn Wright, who won the Rural Health and Wellbeing Excellence Award, says that entering the awards has been an "empowering experience."

"The whole week, the whole experience has been fantastic, and it comes with a great sense of personal and professional achievement."

Wright said it was important to celebrate our achievements and push ourselves out of our comfort zone.

"We need to do things that make us feel uncertain or uncomfortable because they mean a lot to us.

"If they mean enough to us to put ourselves out there, then they are worth doing."

The Award winners for each category are as follows:

Creative Arts: Botanic Press – Emma Hasler, Wanaka

Emerging Business: Honest Wolf – Sophie Hurley, Hunterville

Innovation: Real Country, Laura Koot, Kingston

Love of the Land: Nature and Nosh and The Bush Boardroom – Kylie Rae, Waikato

Rural Champion: Target PR - Rebecca Greaves, Pongaroa

Bountiful Table: Hayz At The Anchorage – Haylee-Chanel Simeon, Bluff

Rural Health and Wellness Excellence: Kathryn Wright Counsellor – Kathryn Wright, Te Anau

by Claire Inkson