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NZ HR Awards winners announced

News Member Updates Industry News

HRNZ, in association with Principal Partner MAS, are pleased to congratulate the winners...

Over 400 leading HR professionals gathered at the 2022 NZ HR Awards last night to celebrate the outstanding Human Resources professionals and organisations leading meaningful change and best practice across Aotearoa.

Now in its 23rd year, the NZ HR Awards, organised by Human Resources New Zealand, in association with Principal Partner MAS, recognise excellence and outstanding achievement within New Zealand’s HR community. Congratulations to all those who submitted entries and to all our finalists and Award winners.

Finalists, Sponsors, fellow HR professionals and their guests experienced a fantastic night of networking, and celebration, reconnecting after the lockdowns and restrictions that made the past year so challenging.

As part of HRNZ’s commitment to championing bicultural HR best practice, two Mana Tāngata Māori Awards were launched. These awards recognise the important work going on around the country with integrating tikanga Māori and te reo Māori in workplaces.

HRNZ thanks goes out to our valued sponsors MAS (Principal Partner), Aims Global, Alex Hagan, Complete Learning Solutions, MyHR, Open Polytechnic, Southern Cross, and Strategic Pay.

So, without further ado, HRNZ, in association with Principal Partner MAS, are excited to announce the winners of the prestigious NZ HR Awards for 2022...


Individual Award winners:

  • HR Student of the Year in association with MAS - Amy Raine, University of Auckland
  • Emerging HR Practitioner of the Year in association with MAS - Abbigail Surridge CMHRNZBlue River Dairy
  • HR Professional of the Year - Danni Williams CMHRNZ, PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • Leadership Award - Melissa Crawford, Vector


Mana Tāngata Māori Award winners:

  • Emerging Māori HR Award - Alexis Cameron, Te Toka Tumai (Auckland District Health Board)
  • Leader Māori HR Award - Downer New Zealand


Organisational Award winners:

  • Diversity & Inclusion Award - Bank of New Zealand
  • Future of Work Award in association with Alex Hagan - Far North District Council
  • Innovation Award in association with MyHR - NZ Health Partnerships
  • Learning & Development Capability Award in association with Open Polytechnic - Mitre 10 (New Zealand) Limited
  • Organisational Change & Development Award - Southern Cross Health Insurance
  • Talent Acquisition in association with Aims Global - Ryman Healthcare
  • Technology Award in association with Complete Learning Solutions - McDonald’s Restaurants (NZ) Ltd
  • Best Wellness Programme Award in association with Southern Cross - Firstgas Group
  • HRNZ Branch of the Year - Otago Branch


Special Award winners:

  • HR Person of the Year - Melissa Crawford, Vector
  • Supreme Award - Bank of New Zealand
  • Lifetime Achievement AwardPaul Toulson DistFHRNZ , Massey University


HRNZ Chief Executive Nick McKissack summarised the special feeling on the night.2021 was another challenging year, where HR professionals were once again at the forefront of compliance and change activities, as we navigated the various Covid restrictions. Tonight, was a celebration of the people and organisations making a real difference championing everything from wellbeing to inclusivity to strategic leadership.”

Nicola Airey, Head of Brand & Partnerships for MAS extended congratulations to the winners and finalists “The finalists and winners recognised tonight represent the best HR professionals working in Aotearoa right now. It is great to be here to recognise the valuable contribution they provide. For over a century MAS has been looking after the insurance and financial needs of Kiwi professionals, including those in HR, so it was natural for us to partner with HRNZ to help them support those working in the profession.”


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 most impactful Contribution to the HR industry in Aotearoa.

It was a special night for Melissa Crawford from Vector who won Leadership Award and was awarded the supreme HR Person of the Year award (which is selected from the individual awards winners). Melissa brings a culture of kindness, growth, and valuing people, making their working experience easier through use of effective technologies. Described as a ‘new guard’ thinker who respects and evolves ‘old guard’ skills and experience to ensure success for individuals, teams, and the business.

Supreme Award Winner

The Bank of New Zealand (BNZ’s) Te Hōkaitanga won the inaugural HRNZ Supreme Award for showing the greatest overall leadership in human resources practice. The programme, which focusses on exploring and evolving leadership capability through a Māori lens, produced many quick wins… While originally thought to be a longer-term goal; BNZ have been able to rapidly accelerate career progression, organisational transformation, and culture change through strategic and thoughtful programme design.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Associate Professor Paul Toulson DistFHRNZ. A registered psychologist by training, Assoc Prof Toulson has worked as a Human Resources Management academic for over 36 years at Massey University. Paul was HRNZ National President from 1997 to 1999 and is a long-standing member of the HRNZ Academic Branch and has been involved with the Manawatū Branch Committee. Paul was also the founding Editor of the New Zealand Journal of Human Resources management (NZJHRM), which he continues to contribute to as an Editorial Review Board Member. A true gentleman in every sense of the word, Paul’s contribution to the HR industry across Aotearoa is simply exceptional.

About the Individual Award Winners

The Individual Awards recognise the contributions of leading HR professionals across Aotearoa, making a meaningful difference, championing change and leading HR best practice. Congratulations to all the deserving winners and finalists.

As well as being an academically exceptional, HR Student of the Year Award winner Amy Raine (University of Auckland) is already making a meaningful impact, mentoring fellow HR students, and serving as student Representative whilst studying. Whilst studying Amy worked part-time as HR Coordinator for The Strand Veterinarian, where she recently got promoted to Practice Manager.

Having left school at 15, Emerging HR Practitioner of the Year winner Abbigail Surridge (Blue River Dairy) spent the past 3 years learning the foundation and fundamentals of HR – self-taught by reading, watching videos/podcasts and reflecting. Abbigail was a key member of the team that helped Blue River Dairy achieve Visa Accreditation through immigration. Then, in September last year, Abbigail gained Chartered Member accreditation, a great achievement that demonstrates her passion for and total commitment to the human resources profession.

HR Professional of the Year, Danni Williams (PwC) is a career HR professional, with expertise in the future of work, strategic and operational HR practice, employment relations, and change. Following an impressive employment history in strategic HR roles across government, health and the recruitment industry, Danni accepted a role as Director, People & Organisation Consulting with PwC. As well as ‘market and client’ work, Danni has made a huge contribution to the HR industry with her consulting about People & organisation practice development and People Development. A staunch advocate of remote working, Danni is a pragmatic and enthusiastic HR professional who sees opportunity and acts.

Leadership Award winner Melissa Crawford (Vector) has held senior leadership roles over the past 18 years at leading organisations across Aotearoa, including Air New Zealand, BNZ, Fonterra, The Warehouse Group, Countdown, AUT, ASB and Vector. Melissa has had remarkable success leading the development of Vector’s highly effective Employee Experience Agile workstream, whilst providing leadership on strategies to prepare the workforce for the future of work by optimising future tech and human potential. A strong advocate for human-centred design and people development, Melissa is a staunch promotor of kindness, caring and fun in the workplace.

About the Mana Tāngata Award Winners

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

Alexis Cameron (Te Toka Tumai - Auckland District Health Board) took out the inaugural Emerging Māori HR Award. Alexis Cameron (Ngāti Porou, Ngati Hāmoa), a physiotherapist by profession, works tirelessly across the health and education sectors to dismantle institutional racism, eliminate inequities, and build culturally safe practice. Their Rangatahi Māori and Pacific workforce development programme was effectively designed and implemented to promote health careers to secondary school students, in a bid to increase the number of Māori and Pacific health professionals, to better reflect the communities they serve.

Downer New Zealand took out the inaugural Leadership Māori HR Award on the back of their Te Ara Whanake leadership programme. In 2014, Downer recognised that while Māori made up 24% of their workforce, there was poor representation in leadership roles. So, they deliberately set out to change this by creating an environment where Māori culture is recognised and celebrated. Their Te Ara Whanake has resulted in nine out of the fifteen pilot participants being promoted within six months of completing the programme


About the Organisational Award Winners

The organisational Awards recognise the contributions of leading HR Teams and organisations across Aotearoa, making a meaningful difference, championing change and leading HR best practice. Congratulations to all the deserving winners and finalists.

The Bank of New Zealand (BNZ’s) Te Hōkaitanga won them the inaugural HRNZ Supreme Award for showing the greatest overall leadership in human resources practice. The programme, which focusses on exploring and evolving leadership capability through a Māori lens, produced many quick wins… While originally thought to be a longer-term goal; BNZ have been able to rapidly accelerate career progression, organisational transformation, and culture change through strategic and thoughtful prog

Within a short amount of time, Diversity, and Inclusion Award winners the Bank of New Zealand have been able to achieve significant outcomes through Te Hōkaitanga – BNZ’s Māori leadership programme. This programme was created with the intent to accelerate the development and representation of Māori in leadership positions and build a strong pipeline of Māori talent to live their mātāpono (values), honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and futureproof BNZ as an employer and achieve our strategic ambition of being ‘The Bank for Māori.

Far North District Council won the new Future of Work Award. A wellbeing pulse check during the first 2020 COVID-19 lockdown was the “pebble-in-the-pond” that led to changing their entire operating model – moving from a heavy commuter and highly office-based organisation to a smart and digitally enabled workforce where employees choose the workplace that fits their personal and domestic circumstances. A staff survey one year later (in June 2021) showed a profound improvement in the wellbeing and resilience of their people with seven times as many people reporting improved wellbeing for everyone reporting a decline.

NZ Health Partnerships (NZHP) took out the HR Innovation Award for their bespoke ‘Package by Design’ employee reward and remuneration package system. By offering Package by Design, NZHP has been successful in appointing senior leaders and subject matter experts/specialists. These appointments would have been almost impossible due to competitive rates and commission structures characteristic of these roles in the private sector.

Mitre 10 New Zealand Limited (Mitre 10) were awarded the Learning and Development Capability Award for their ‘with our people’ focus to their new brand promise “With you all the way”. In the past they had delivered customer service programmes for their people and to their people. This time it needed to be with their people. This culture shift created a programme that stores could own and drive, to build both a capability uplift and cultural shift across the business.

Southern Cross Health Insurance won the Organisational Change and Development Award for their ‘Enabling our organisational agility’ initiative. They embarked on an eight-week journey, immediately employing agile principles by working in short bursts of four x two-week sprints) to create a roadmap for improving organisational agility. By December 2020, they had completely remodelled the entire organisation to enable organisational agility. Throughout the process, they fostered cultural conditions that would ensure our operating model supported their people to deliver the outcomes they work so passionately to achieve.

Ryman Healthcare’s ‘Pioneers Wanted’ programme won them the Talent Acquisition Award. Talent shortages meant Ryman Healthcare’s talent attraction methods needed to cut through the noise of a busy market and highlight Ryman as an employer of choice. The ‘Pioneers Wanted programme resulted in their attractiveness and awareness both increased compared to the year prior, in results of the Randstad Employer Brand Research in 2021

The HR Technology Award was awarded to McDonald’s Restaurants NZ Ltd (McDonald’s) for their use of Maxtel Software to create a seamless experience for employees at all levels. The Maxtel WorkBuddy app, SmartClock and Shift Management Apps enabled Shift Managers to focus on what is happening in the restaurant and collaborating with the team to run a successful shift to ensure consistently high-quality food and service is experienced by their customers, rather than focusing on time keeping and records admin.

FirstGas Limited took out the Wellness Programme Award for their TIGER (Together, Integrity, Grow, Empower, Respect) programme. This initiative has given staff confidence that FirstGas is a place where people care for one another and where wellbeing is a priority, and they have observed a real groundswell of pride in the organisation because of the programme. Their continuous listening survey showed an average 8.4/10 employee score for wellbeing. This included 9.4/10 rating for ‘I feel safe at work’ and a 9.2/10 rating for ‘Someone at work cares about my wellbeing’.

The HRNZ Branch of the Year was awarded to the Otago Branch. This Award recognises the HRNZ Branch that has contributed the most to championing the HR profession in their region, through networking and learning and development opportunities.  Judging criteria was based on several factors including Membership Growth, Event growth and number of average events per month. Weighing all these factors, Otago Branch has deservedly won the HRNZ Branch of the Year Award.

To arrange interviews or for further information please contact Steve Sheppard (HRNZ Communications Manager) on [email protected] or call 027 863 1246.

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