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Enterprising Rural Women Award Entries 2015

Eleven dynamic and innovative businesses have entered the Rural Women New Zealand Enterprising Rural Women Awards 2015.

“This is the seventh year we’ve held the Enterprising Rural Women Awards,” says Rural Women National President, Wendy McGowan. “We’re starting to see an emerging trend of dynamic rural businesses being run by women to meet the needs of the rural community but with wider appeal to urban residents and tourists.”

Register now for our Conference to see the finalists and supreme award winners.  

Entry profiles in alphabetical order: 

Kate Belcher - Revolution Tours Ltd

Revolution Tours Ltd is a rural tourism company owned by Kate and Matt Belcher. They run four-day, three-night fully guided and supported cycling and walking tours called ‘The Paradise Trail’ in Glenorchy. They moved to Queenstown several years ago and drove to Glenorchy one day and felt an instant connection. They always wanted to be self-employed and contribute financially to the Glenorchy town and helping it thrive was part of their business plan.

They started the business in 2011 after researching, planning and gaining all the consents and permissions. It is the original guided cycle tour company in Queenstown and the only one operating in Glenorchy. Target market is 50-80 year olds who still enjoy physical activity but want to enjoy a good meal and comfortable night’s sleep after a day of adventure. They often receive the ultimate compliment that they have exceeded their clients’ expectations.

Bridget Canning - 
WIZwireless Limited



Owners Bridget and John Canning have a sheep and beef farm North East of Masterton.

They wanted broadband at home but found it was not available so they approached a local wireless company but it was so costly they decided to set up their own broadband infrastructure to support local residents.

WIZWireless provides coverage throughout Wairarapa and into the lower Tararua area. They get a buzz from installing new subscribers and feel that they are making a real difference to people’s lives. They can reduce phone bills by adding VoIP and extending mobile coverage with a Vodafone Sure Signal connecting over their network. John works at the farm while Bridget manages the broadband business.

Bernadette Jackson   LaValla



LaValla is a function centre specializing in weddings, conferencing, and accommodation set in an historical rural location 1.3km outside of Tuakau in the Waikato. LaValla was purchased in 2011 as a derelict Marist School and have converted it into a function centre that has hosted over 20 weddings and over 20 more are booked for 2015.

LaValla offers accommodation options, corporate functions, team building, clubs and family events including funerals. They offer a high quality product that is diverse enough that most people can afford to use them for one special occasion event in their life. They also support local groups with fundraising opportunities at their public events such as garden concerts.

Adi McMaster-  Martygirl Skinfood



Martygirl is a natural, ethical skinfood range. Adi McMaster’s business has grown from a hobby handmade in the kitchen with homemade labels and assorted jars, to being a branded professional product successfully marketed through local fairs and online sales. Adi also hosts workshops for locals to learn more about ingredients and make their own natural products.

Martygirl is based on the philosophy that you should not put anything on your skin that you would not eat or recognise on the label. Every product is 100 percent handmade with skin softening, soothing, local Martinbrough or nearby ingredients. Locally foraged herbs are researched before they are infused into oils, glycerites or tinctures and every product is named for local Wairarapa places.

Bronwyn Muir -  OnFarm Safety New Zealand



OnFarmSafety New Zealand was conceived to assist farm businesses to understand current farm health and safety legislation and prepare the rural community for new legislation. It started from Bronwyn Muir helping out one farmer who said that she explained the legislation well and there is a need for farmers to understand health and safety law.

Three years on, OnFarmSafety NZ has turned into a sustainable business. Bronwyn and staff take time to explain and support each farmer client through education on specific health and safety acts, codes, regulations and technical advice. Bronwyn and her team continue to create new ways and tools to assist the farmer to achieve health and safety compliance.

Chanelle Purser -  Carvin Streetwear



Carvin Streetwear is a fashion clothing, footwear and accessories store based in Gore. Chanelle was motivated to start up a fashion clothing store as farm duties did not allow enough time to travel further afield than Gore for shopping trips. After moving from the surfing region of Taranaki she recognised a gap in the market for streetwear fashion in Gore.

Carvin Streetwear opened in 2005 with Chanelle and two part-time staff and has evolved over the years and is now located in a premium retail space with full time staff who have completed retail industry training. In the past year staff have won a retail professional service award and the shop was awarded Top Shop for Otago and Southland and were runners-up for the Supreme Top Shop Award.

Renee Riley -  Bay Fitness



Renee Riley’s fitness business started nearly four years ago when she moved to Collingwood. Her husband did not need extra help on the farm so she wanted to find a career. She had trained as a personal trainer when she was younger but working in a big gym was not her style. She did some research about Collingwood and realized there were no options for locals to do fitness classes in their community.

Renee started off with a circuit strength training class at a local school hall which grew into several classes a week and personal training sessions. Eventually she leased a bigger hall and converted it into a gym with equipment. She now runs small group classes, including an “Easy Does It” class for older, less mobile people, as well as bootcamps and a women’s retreat.


Marie Taylor-  Plant Hawke’s Bay

Hawke’s Bay


Plant Hawke’s Bay is a native plant nursery specialising in growing eco-sourced Hawke’s Bay plants. Marie set up the company in 2005 with the objective to see more Hawke’s Bay plants going back into the local landscape. Marie has extensive knowledge of the distribution of native plants throughout the area after working for the QE II Trust for several years.

They grow around 85,000 plants a year on leased land. They sell wholesale plants and contract grow for farmers, lifestyle block owners, landscapers and for conservation projects like the kakabeak restoration. About 95 percent of plants are eco-sourced by collecting the seed and cuttings from natural plants in the wild. Marie’s business aims to be the preferred supplier of native plants, have a profitable and sustainable business and to help save plant species.

Holly Tonkin -  Avocado Contracting


Holly Tonkin has been avocado contracting for five years. Holly grew up in the rural sector but pursued other careers until her mother asked her to help pick avocados. She loved it and enjoyed being outdoors and soon found a job as a picker for avocados in Whangarei.

Holly now owns a business using hydralada’s which are elevated working platforms, and a transport trailer to move between jobs. Her clients include 20 avocado orchards and her main job is harvesting and managing staff to do the picking. Holly also undertakes pruning and general nursery tasks. Her clients have said that she has proved to be careful and respectful of the orchard and strives to avoid breakage and damage to orchard trees.

Marion Williams-  
Marion Williams Counselling


Marion Williams worked on a farm with her family for a decade and the reality hit hard as drought, floods and snow storms affected the farm. After completing a BA degree in applied psychology she applied for a position at a community based rural counselling service. She worked part-time and gained accreditation with the New Zealand Association of Counsellors and other industry organisations.

In 2002 Marion sold the farm and now focuses on counselling. The foundation of her services is built on her experience and knowledge of rural culture and the gaps that the culture has created when it comes to acknowledging and talking about emotional health. The economic benefits to rural and urban communities in addressing emotional health through counselling are immeasurable.


Joanne Taylor

Latitude Media



Latitude Media was started from home by Joanne Taylor in 2007. She co-owns the business with her husband Deane but is solely responsible for the operational side of the business. They are also arable farmers who produce vegetable seed. The motivation to set up a magazine was to provide upmarket material for local women to read, especially in the rural areas of Canterbury.

Joanne Taylor filled a gap in the market for a high end magazine with inspiring real stories about local people written for a female rural audience. There are regular advertisers who have been with the magazine for over eight years. In every issue they feature a local charity, food producer and stories on art, history and culture. The one constant has to be a connection to Canterbury.


Many thanks to our sponsors:


Read All NewsRecent news

(Pictured above: Minister Damien O'Çonnor meeting with RWNZ Chief Executive Officer Penelope England, National President Fiona Gower, National Chair Penny Mudford and Manager of Government, Public Sector and Academic Relationships Angela McLeod.)


Rural Women New Zealand has released a media release supporting the recent announcement to reintegrate rural proofing into policy development. Please read the media release below. 



Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is pleased to see rural proofing is back on the table and being included in the Government’s policy work.

“Understanding the impact that Government policies, service delivery and business behaviour have on our rural communities is not only vital to the success of the rural economy, it builds and maintains our rural social fabric,” says RWNZ National President, Fiona Gower.

“RWNZ has been calling for rural impact analyses to be carried out in both the public and private sector because decisions have, and are being made that have a detrimental effect on rural communities.

“As a member of the advisory group that supported the development of the Government’s new Rural Proofing Guide for Policy Development and Service Delivery Planning, RWNZ is encouraged by the final document.

“RWNZ will continue to work alongside the Government, its agencies and entities to ensure successful implementation of the Rural Proofing Guide.

“The Government’s new rural proofing policy guidelines will go a long way to alleviating poor policy development and service delivery, and RWNZ is looking forward to seeing better outcomes for rural communities,” says Ms Gower.



For further information, please contact National Office:

[email protected]





Rural Proofing Back On the Table

Thursday, June 14, 2018

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The Government has announced the decision of phased eradication of Mycoplasma bovis (M.bovis). The announcement was made yesterday afternoon, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister Damien O'Connor, alongside RWNZ National President, Fiona Gower and representatives from Federated Farmers, Beef and Lamb NZ, and Dairy NZ (pictured above).

RWNZ encourages anyone needing assistance to contact the Rural Support Trust and recommends following updates from MPI. It is important to support others in your community through this eradication phase.

Read below our media release following yesterday's announcement. 




Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) will continue to support communities following the Government’s decision on phased eradication of Mycoplasma bovis (M.bovis) from New Zealand.

“RWNZ is collaborating with the Government, MPI, Rural Support Trust, and industry leaders to support our rural communities, families, women and children given today's decision," says RWNZ National President Fiona Gower.

“The decision to phase eradication of M.bovis has been made by Cabinet after consultation by Minister O'Connor with industry leaders.

“RWNZ is committed to ensuring there is wrap-around welfare support for those affected – we understand that high stress in times of crisis can lead to a breakdown of our social rural fabric.

“Strategic, regular, and thoughtful communications between decision makers, support networks, and communities is vital.

"By working together, we can do this," says Ms Gower.


Rural Support Trust Chairperson, Neil Bateup says that Rural Support Trust and RWNZ will be working together to support our rural communities.

"Rural Support Trust is available 24/7 for free, confidential support on 0800 787 254. The welfare of farmers, their families and staff are of upmost importance to all of us. Do not be afraid to reach out if you need us," he says.


For a full list of support services visit our here

Read the Prime Minister and Minister's full media release here for further information regarding the decision.

Read Fiona's media statement here.



Mycoplasma bovis announcement

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

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Rural Women New Zealand has released a media release following the announcement this morning that the Government are giving a funding boost to help improve child and family wellbeing. 


Read the relevant media here.



The announcement this morning that the Government will be giving family violence services a boost of $76.2 million is a step in the right direction for our women and families, says Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ).

“New Zealand’s rate of violence against women and children is unacceptable – it is great to see the Government increasing support services for women, families, and communities in need," says RWNZ National Chair, Penny Mudford.

The Government also announced that additional funding in 2019/2020 would enable services to expand into areas where there is currently no support.

“Women and children living in rural New Zealand have particular challenges and can be vulnerable to physical and psychological abuse due to their geographic and social isolation.

“For some, living rurally means they are some distance from their families and whānau and do not have the support that the wider family can provide.

“Family violence victims in rural New Zealand do not have the same level of access to psychological and legal support as urban women and children do, due to living rurally.

“RWNZ hope that this boost announced by the Government will be used to empower our rural communities by giving women and children who are victims of violence the help and support they so badly need,” says Ms Mudford.


Rural Women New Zealand have released a media release raising our concerns for how data is being collected in this year's census.

Please read the media release below.


This year’s census is in danger of not providing the data needed to make good decisions, says Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ).

“Whilst we understand and support the excitement of capturing our census data online, our concern is that many people still do not have access to internet while others might not have the capability or capacity to do so,” says National President, Fiona Gower.

“The timing of the delivery of access code letters, which indicate that New Zealanders can opt for paper forms presents challenges for our rural communities, given that delivery of mail is taking longer and might only be delivered three days a week.

“The chances of a rural household without internet or with unreliable internet, receiving census paper forms in time for Tuesday, 6 March is slim, and that is concerning.

“RWNZ is doing everything possible to ensure our networks are aware of the new way of doing the Census although surely more thought should have gone in to how the valuable information about the lives and status of New Zealanders would be collected.

“Maybe this year, there could have been a concerted effort to use both electronic collection and paper collection to ensure integrity of the data,” says Ms Gower.



Please contact the National Office for more information.



National Office

Rural Women New Zealand


[email protected]

04 473 5524



(image source: www.census.govt.nz)

Census Data Collection Integrity Questioned

Monday, February 26, 2018

Rural Women New Zealand have released a media release raising our concerns for how data is being collected in this year's census.  Read More

Rural Women New Zealand has today released a media release following the announcement that the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) will move to shut down if it does not receive funding.

Read the announcement here.  




Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) are saddened to see that the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) will cease operating if it does not receive government funding next week.


“RWNZ supports the work already done by RHAANZ in bringing together various rural groups and rural health providers to develop initiatives for rural communities,” says RWNZ Board Member and Health Portfolio Convenor, Margaret Pittaway.

“Remarkable work has been done to deliver the Rural Health Road Map which sets out a plan and priorities for achieving healthily rural communities.

“Being geographically isolated, often with significant distance to the nearest town or health centre means that rural communities have an immediate need of affordable and reliable access to all health services.

“The Government has committed to rural proofing government policy, and RHAANZ has a vital part to play in this development – without the continuation of RHAANZ, and the work it does, rural communities will go backwards.

“There is no other place where issues impacting the health and wellbeing of rural communities are considered concurrently, and the loss of achievements met and efforts made by RHAANZ will be detrimental for our rural people.

RWNZ urges the Government to recognise the good work that has been done by RHAANZ and to support its continuation," says Mrs Pittaway.




Another setback for health and wellbeing of rural communities.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Rural Women New Zealand has today released a media release following the announcement that the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) will move to shut down if it does not receive funding. Read More

Rural Women New Zealand has released a media release regarding our involvement to help support communities affected by the M.bovis outbreak. With 38 farms currently infected, and others under movement control, we encourage farmers to contact their local Rural Support Trust and visit MPI’s website for advice and support.


Read more about this here.

Read the media release below.




  Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) has offered their full support to the Government for communities that are affected by the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) outbreak. This announcement was made in a meeting earlier this week with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor, and Waikato dairy farmers, then reiterated with industry leaders.


“Our rural communities are really hurting in this unprecedented biosecurity outbreak – it is vital they are supported throughout this response, no matter what future plan is decided next week,” says RWNZ National President Fiona Gower.

“From what I saw on Monday and what we are hearing from our members and others in the industry, it is clear that the response to M. bovis is upsetting and we are pleased to have been able to offer our support.

“Since 1925, RWNZ members have been the glue that holds rural communities together and nearly 100 years later we continue by working with Rural Support Trusts, visiting farming families, and offering funding for adverse events.

“The decision to offer our full support comes from recent meetings with industry leaders and the Minister, and from our many years’ experience supporting rural communities.

“We are pleased that RWNZ can continue our tradition of charitable giving and we look forward to working with the Government and industry to ensure rural communities are fully supported through the M. bovis outbreak,” says Ms Gower.