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2023 NZ HR Awards winners announced!

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Congratulations to all who submitted entries and to all our finalists and Award winners. 

Over 400 leading HR professionals gathered at the 2023 NZ HR Awards last night to celebrate the outstanding Human Resources professionals and organisations leading meaningful change and best practice across Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

Finalists, Sponsors, and all other guests experienced a fantastic night of networking and celebration. It was a great opportunity to reflect on and appreciate all the hard work that has been done over yet another challenging year. 

Now in its 24th year, the NZ HR Awards, organised by Human Resources New Zealand, in association with our Principal Partner MAS, recognised excellence and outstanding achievement within New Zealand’s HR community.  

Congratulations to all who submitted entries and to all our finalists and Award winners. 

HRNZ’s thanks go out to our valued sponsors MAS (Principal Partner), Aims Global Immigration, Alex Hagan, Belle of the Ball, Complete Learning Solutions, Fuel50, PwC New Zealand, Real TV, Robert Walters, Skills Consulting Group, Southern Cross Health Insurance, Strategic Pay, and (last but not least) Tomorrow's People

So, without further ado, HRNZ is excited to announce the winners of the prestigious NZ HR Awards for 2023... 


Individual Award winners: 

  • HR Student of the Year - Rebecca Jackson, Massey University 

  • Emerging HR Practitioner of the Year in association with MAS - Jason Cook, Mt Pokaka Timber Products Ltd 

  • HR Professional of the Year in association with PwC New Zealand - Kerry Tattersall CMHRNZ, Baker Tilly Staples Rodway 

  • Leadership Award in association with MAS - Laura Warren, Otago Polytechnic 

  • Wellbeing Leadership Award in association with Skills Consulting Group - Sarah Mason EPMHRNZ, Fulton Hogan 

  • Academic Impact Award - Deepika Jindal CMHRNZ (Academic), University of Auckland 


Mana Tāngata Māori Award winners: 

  • Emerging Māori HR Award in association with Robert Walters - Te Whatu Ora Waitaha 

  • Leader Māori HR Award in association with Robert Walters - Otago Polytechnic | Te Kura Matatini ki Otago 


Organisational Award winners: 

  • Diversity & Inclusion Award - Education Perfect 

  • Future of Work Award in association with Alex Hagan - Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) 

  • Innovation Award in association with Fuel50 - Z Energy 

  • Building Sustainability through People Award in association with Belle of the Ball - Mitre 10 New Zealand Ltd 

  • HRNZ Branch of the Year in association with HRNZ - Auckland Branch 


Special Award winners: 

  • HR Person of the Year - Laura Warren, Otago Polytechnic 

  • Supreme Award - Z Energy 

  • Outstanding Service Award in association with Strategic Pay - Kirsten Patterson DistFHRNZ, Institute of Directors 


HRNZ Chief Executive, Nick McKissack shared a few words: “It’s great to once again gather together to celebrate the outstanding work of HR professionals throughout Aotearoa, New Zealand and shine a light on some of the best practices from our leading organisations. The HR NZ Awards Ceremony is the largest gathering of HR professionals on the calendar each year. Congratulations to all those who submitted entries and to all our finalists and Award winners.” 

Our Principal Awards Sponsor MAS also shared that they are pleased to once again support the NZ HR Awards, “recognising the outstanding achievements of Aotearoa, New Zealand’s HR professionals.” 


About the Special Award Winners… 

HR Person of the Year 

The HR Person of the Year Award is selected from one of the individual award winners, based on the most impactful Contribution to the HR industry in Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

It was a special night for Laura Warren, who won the Leadership Award and the HR Person of the Year Award. Laura is known for her pragmatic, authentic, and engaging approach and for the positive impact she has on all who met her. As Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture & Safety at Otago Polytechnic (a business division of Te Pūkenga), she contributes locally and nationally to best-practice, people-focused strategies and workplace culture. 

HRNZ Supreme Award  

The HRNZ Supreme Award is awarded to the organisation showing greatest overall leadership in HR practice. For 2023, this award went to Z Energy who was also the winner of the Innovation Award for the initiative they devised to close the gender pay gap within their company. Salary transparency, an innovative KiwiSaver offering, and systematic modelling of their gender pay gap, have helped Z Energy deliver on their objective to completely close their pay gap by FY24. 

Outstanding Service Award 

The Outstanding Service Award was presented to Kirsten Patterson DistFHRNZ, CEO at the Institute of Directors. Kirsten (KP) has a background in HR, which catapulted her into a successful career in governance and working as chief executive. Despite her new career focus, KP maintained her support and association with HRNZ. She continues to help in shaping the profession via presenting and contributing as mentor, chartered assessor and awards judge.   

About the Individual Award Winners... 

The Individual Awards recognise the contributions of leading HR professionals across Aotearoa, New Zealand making a meaningful difference, championing change, and leading HR best practice. 

Despite only recently finishing her final semester of study, HR Student of the Year Award winner Rebecca Jackson (Massey University) already has her eye on employee experience and organisational attractiveness. As a Student Ambassador for HRNZ, she helped facilitate Branch events along with organise an ‘HR Information & Networking’ evening. During her internship at Horizons Regional Council, Rebecca worked on the ‘Attractions 2.0’ project, which led to the Council's P&C team creating new HR frameworks and templates. 

Whilst running a 60ha family farm in Kaikohe, Emerging HR Practitioner of the Year winner Jason Cook also works as the recently promoted HR Manager for Mt Pokaka Timber Products Ltd. Jason lives by the saying “busy people get a lot done.” With HR being an unexpected move in his career, he has found a passion for the profession and creating positive change within his organisation – a passion he shares as a volunteer career navigator for senior students at Whangaroa College. 

HR Professional of the Year, Kerry Tattersall CMHRNZ (Baker Tilly Staples Rodway) has an extensive HR career spanning 2 decades and 2 countries. In her role as an Associate, ER/HR Consultant and a Licensed Private Investigator, she has a knack for “slicing through communication knots” to enable a positive outcome by the power of restorative practices and coaching techniques. Kerry has pioneered and implemented a number of different strategies across Baker Tilly, all the while serving as the Branch President for HRNZ’s Hawke’s Bay Branch Committee. 

Leadership Award winner Laura Warren (Otago Polytechnic) has led an impressive array of strategic initiatives across several organisations, recently contributing on a national scale to the People, Culture & Wellbeing operational and strategic planning for Te Pūkenga. Laura brings a personal touch and ‘realness’ to her work, and is widely known for her energy and enthusiasm. She contributes to HRNZ both through her role as the Branch President of the Otago Branch, but also by driving local membership and promoting our national strategies. 

A new award introduced this year was the Wellbeing Leadership Award, won by Sarah Mason. Sarah is the National Wellbeing Manager at Fulton Hogan. Driven by her passion for putting people at the heart of the business, Sarah has led the implementation, evaluation and development of Fulton Hogan’s nationwide wellbeing programme. Her work has resulted in an increased awareness and understanding of wellbeing in the workplace, which has numerous positive ripple-on effects.   

The Academic Impact Award was also introduced for the first time at this year’s awards. The new award went to ‘job crafter’ Deepika Jindal.  Deepika is a reflective academic, who is passionate about HRM, and strives to add value to her students, the University of Auckland, and the wider community. Her research interest lies in job crafting and she is committed to helping shape the future HR workforce. Deepika is the President of HRNZ’s academic Branch. 


About the Mana Tāngata Award Winners... 

The Mana Tāngata Māori HR Awards recognise individuals or organisations commencing the journey to incorporate bi-cultural HR practices (Emerging Māori HR Award) and those demonstrating excellence in the enactment of Tikanga Māori-based HR practice (Leader Māori HR Award). 

Te Whatu Ora Waitaha took out the Emerging Māori HR Award. Their Mana Taurite (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion team) developed a mana-enhancing recruitment process that removes many of the obstacles that Māori & Pasifika face when looking to start a career in health. This was done with the knowledge that having patients being able to see themselves in their staff would result in a positive experience, and the vision to break down the barriers of discrimination in the traditional recruitment process.  

The Leader Māori HR Award went to Otago Polytechnic | Te Kura Matatini ki Otago for their Te Rautaki Māori (Māori Strategic Framework/MSF) initiative. Implementation of the initiative was embedded at all levels across the organisation, led by a team within the Office of The Kaitohutohu (KTO). The People and Culture team has been on a journey of developing bicultural competency that has enabled a significant shift in their thinking and practice that is more culturally responsive and inclusive for Māori. It has become part of their everyday practice and the way they do their mahi, with additional positive benefits for all “our people.” 


About the Organisational Award Winners... 

The organisational Awards recognise the contributions of leading HR Teams and organisations across Aotearoa, New Zealand making a meaningful difference, championing change, and leading HR best practice.  

Z Energy’s current gender pay gap is 3.42%. When comparing this to the New Zealand’s average of 9.2%, it is no wonder they won the Innovation Award for their initiative to close their gender pay gap by FY24. Alongside their goal of closing the gender pay gap, they also wish to achieve more equitable outcomes for women both now and in their retirement. They have developed a clear path forward to achieving this. Their wide-scale project involves a number of innovative initiatives that have resulted in Z normalising remuneration negotiation, equipping their people with greater financial literacy, and encouraging greater agency across all demographics. 

The Talent Acquisition Award went to Tonkin + Taylor, for their ‘Suits me to a T+T’ digital recruitment campaign which is focused on attracting the world’s best talent. With borders shut and a highly contested pool of talent, T+T created dynamic web-based domestic and international recruitment campaigns. Their No. 1 goal was to achieve the impossible – to fill a list of 75 specialised vacancies. Despite an extremely tight market and an unemployment rate of 3% they have made 138 new hires from January – September 2022, surpassing pre-covid hiring levels. The key to their success was timing – bravely gate-crashing ahead of their competitors to build awareness and generate interest in what T+T and Aotearoa have to offer.  

The Learning and Development Capability Award was awarded to Southbase Construction, for their Competency Framework initiative which focused on providing their people with an easy-to-use guide on how to perform key construction management tasks. After five years of operating and experiencing rapid growth, they needed a training system that would allow their team across the country to access instructional resources. As a result of this framework, Southbase has awarded 2640 competencies to date. People appreciate that the framework clearly shows how they meet expectations. It provides feedback on performance and recognition to those who have obtained competencies

Education Perfect won the Diversity and Inclusion Award for their EAL (English as an Additional Language) initiative which focused on making their workplace a more supportive and comfortable place for those who are a non-native English speaker. With 22% of their staff identifying as non-native English speakers, EP’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee decided to introduce an initiative to support this cohort. Their efforts resulted in 91% of non-native English speakers agreeing that “I feel that my manager cares about me and supports my specific needs as a non-native English speaker,” and 75% responding positively to the prompt, “as a non-native English speaker, I feel included and valued at Education Perfect.” 

For their Awhi Oranga (Employee Support Centre) initiative, Te Whatu Ora, Te Toka Tumai won the Wellness Programme Award. The call centre was implemented in 2020 during COVID when support for Te Toka Tumai’s people was crucial. Awhi Oranga has enabled Te Toka Taumai to support their workforce during a critical time in the industry. They had high patient numbers, low staff levels as well as personal impacts of COVID. This initiative has provided practical, meaningful support to all their workforce, and particularly those who need it the most.  

The Technology Award went to Tompkins Wake for their Bamboo HR initiative which involved the digitization of their HR systems and operations to ensure they were efficient and fit for purpose. They started the major overhaul in 2019. By researching and investing in new software and developing new systems and processes, they have been able to improve communication between their offices and staff. This has demonstrated why Tompkins Wake is known as one of New Zealand’s most innovative law firms. 

Their ‘Secret Sauce’ won My Food Bag the Organisational Change and Development Award. My Food Bag aspires to double the size of their business in three years and one of their strategic pillars to support this is by having an amazing and high performing culture. Their ‘Secret Sauce’ initiative defines their values and behaviours, and in turn the symbols and rituals to support and embed them. Clarity around these have increased retention by more than 50%, with a strong lift in engagement. 

The Future of Work Award recognises organisations that are paving the path to the future of work. This award went to ACC for their Sustainable Hybrid Working initiative. They aimed to make sure that work was better for their people whilst continuing to meet and exceed customer expectations. ACC’s pulse survey results from November 2022 have revealed the highest eNPS since 2017 – eNPS has been steadily increasing since introducing hybrid and flexible ways of working. People appreciate the progress made with work flexibility and feel ACC’s policies, processes and procedures support them with hybrid working. 

Another new award introduced this year was the Building Sustainability through People Award. This went to Mitre 10 New Zealand Ltd for their sustainability initiative. They focused on taking a human-centred approach to sustainability which has improved awareness and engagement at all levels. Their efforts have seen an exciting cultural shift within their business and enabled their commitment to make a real and sustainable impact on the environment, their operations and our communities. 

Having facilitated 73 topical events over the year, Auckland Branch was the well-deserving winner of the HRNZ Branch of the Year Award for 2023. This award recognises the branch that has contributed the most to championing the HR profession in their region. Auckland Branch has seen consistent growth thanks to their proactive engagement with membership, their connection building and fostering of relationships, and their focus on career development. “We hope our members have gained a great deal from our collective efforts.” 

A huge congratulations to all the Awards winners, and also to the finalists and those who made an awards entry – all of your great work does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Keep it up Aotearoa! 

To arrange interviews or for further information please contact Courtney King (HRNZ Senior Communications Advisor) at [email protected] or call 04 802 3954.



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