Award history, objectives and categories

The Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding Māori excellence and success in business.

It is important for New Zealand's tertiary institutions to honour our successful Māori business leaders because they serve as excellent role models for New Zealand's young Māori population.

It is important for New Zealand's tertiary institutions to honour our successful Māori business leaders because they serve as excellent role models for New Zealand's young Māori population.

Manaakitanga Māori

Manaakitanga Māori traditionally means to honour one’s guests with hospitality. As the premier event recognising Māori business success in New Zealand, the University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards:

  • Honour outstanding individual Māori success in business, in Aotearoa New Zealand and around the world.
  • Profile and promote excellence and success of Māori enterprise and business.
  • Recognise and celebrate the achievements Māori graduates from the University of Auckland Business School.
  • Inspire rangatahi and current Māori University of Auckland Business School students by providing Māori role models who are successful in both the business world and academia.

Māori as entrepreneurs

Māori, in the first years of contact with Europeans, soon showed the world beyond Aotearoa New Zealand that they are astute business operators and fearless entrepreneurs. New Zealand needs many more of these Māori business leaders to provide inspiration and leadership, not just to whanau and hapū, but for the greater benefit and enrichment of the nation. The aim of the University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards is to publically recognise and honour these leaders.

History of the awards

Originally created to acknowledge the academic success of Māori, and to honour and celebrate the success and achievements of Māori business leaders, the annual event has fast become New Zealand's premier Māori business awards ceremony. It has grown in size and stature each year, attracting politicians, Māori business and community leaders, iwi organisations, government agencies, Māori Business School alumni, Business School partners and friends, family and business associates of the award winners, and current Māori students and faculty members.

As a result the awards have enabled the Business School to develop a network of Māori business alumni who support each other professionally and gather each year to reaffirm their commitment to support the academic and business successes of our Māori students.

Outstanding Māori Business Leader Award

A man or woman who has achieved exceptional success in his or her career and has demonstrated outstanding leadership characteristics.

Young Māori Business Leader Award

A person under 35 who has achieved significant success in his or her career to date and is a business leader now and in the future.

Māori Entrepreneurial Leader Award

A person who has created/built/is building a successful business and through that is a role model for other Māori.

Māori Woman Business Leader Award

A Māori woman who has achieved significant success in her career to date.

Māori Governance Leader Award

A man or woman who has achieved exceptional success in governance roles in a kaupapa Māori business and has demonstrated outstanding leadership characteristics.

Dame Mira Szászy Māori Alumni Award

A graduate of the University of Auckland Business School, who has achieved significant success in their career to date. This Award is given periodically.

About Dame Mira Szászy

The late Dame Mira Szászy was one of the most outstanding Māori women leaders of the twentieth century. She was the first Māori woman to graduate with a degree from the University of Auckland. She was also president of the Māori Women's Welfare League and was made a Dame in 1990. Her influence extended into many areas of society and community. Dame Mira made significant contributions in education, broadcasting, social welfare, and small business development. She received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Victoria University of Wellington in 1993 in recognition of her contribution to the nation, and she was very active in women's rights and Māori issues.

He Rātā Whakaruruhau: Lifetime Achievement Award

The name of the award, "he rātā whakaruruhau" literally means the sheltering rātā. It refers to the sheltering and flowering rātā tree, a tapu tree of significance. Through this award the rātā may blossom again in the hearts and minds of the recipients and contemporary Māori. This title is inspired by an ancient metaphor of leadership where a rangatira was referred to as he rātā whakaruruhau, a leader who provides protection and sustenance for the people. This award recognises an individual who has made a substantial and significant contribution to Māori enterprise over a long period of time. This Award is given periodically.

Outstanding Māori Business Leadership Award

A kaupapa Māori business that has achieved significant success in recent years that demonstrates values that make them a role model for other Māori businesses.