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Hall of Fame - Special Awards

Laura Warren, Otago Polytechnic (Te Pūkenga, NZ Institute of Skillsand Technology)

HR Person of the Year 2023 

Laura is a leader in the HR profession in Aotearoa. 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-focussed strategies and workplace culture. Laura is known for her pragmatic, authentic, and engaging approach and for the positive impact she has on all who meet her. She is energetic, enthusiastic and a great supporter of all HR professionals. She contributes to HRNZ both through her role as Branch President of the Otago Branch, but also by driving local membership and promoting our national strategies. 

Check out the Award Video

Melissa Crawford, Vector

HR Person of the Year 2022

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. 

Amy Clarke, Statistics NZ

HR Person of the Year 2021 

It was a big night for Amy Clarke from Statistics New Zealand who was a finalist in the HR Generalist Award, won the HR Leadership Award and the prestigious HR Person of the Year Award (which is selected from the individual awards winners). The judges were impressed that Amy actively leads a generalist HR team whilst simultaneously operating as the organisation’s subject matter expert in diversity and inclusion, for which it is clear Amy has a major passion.  

In announcing Amy as HR Person of the Year the Chief Judge commented… “Amy deserves this award because she operates at a very senior and effective level as a proven HR leader, an effective HR generalist manager and as a committed and passionate subject matter expert in diversity and inclusion.  Amy makes a meritorious people contribution within her organisation and in the wider community.” 

Debbie Kirby, Downer New Zealand

HR Person of the Year 2020 

Debbie Kirby has improved the outcomes for many Downer people and their whanau through employment and development programmes. She is the acknowledged leader in NZ for Corporate Social Outcome programmes, contributing both to her own organisation and wider NZ. Through constant innovation and working collaborative with various Partners over 8 years she has tackled the tough social issues such as drug usage and the growing numbers of NEETs. Debbie freely shares her experience and expertise genuinely committed to making a difference. Debbie is considered one of the most significant contributors within Downer, having built a capability in the organisation that is now a key differentiator. 

Katie Williams, Vodafone

HR Person of the Year 2019 

Katie is an Organisational Psychologist by training with experience in Management Consulting in NZ, Europe and the UK prior to moving into in-house HR roles spanning generalist and specialist HR activity. Katie’s current role is 2IC to the Vodafone NZ HR Director leading the Vodafone New Zealand HR function to drive productivity and performance across the business. 

Katie is a working mother of three children between the ages of 8 and 13, and has a long-standing passion and commitment to supporting women to live the life they most want, through doing all she can to increase gender equality in the workplace. 

Kate Daly, Fletcher Building Limited

HR Person of the year 2018 

Kate joined Fletcher Building in 2011 from Coca-Cola Amatil. The credibility of the central HR function was poor internally and externally and there had been little investment in the function since Fletcher Building was formed in 2001.Over the past six years, Kate has completely rebuilt the HR function to one which is highly valued and respected both internally and externally. Internally she has developed a true centre of excellence which partners with the business to ensure HR programmes are developed to support the business strategy. Her passion for people and personal investment in raising the profile of diversity across the business has had a significant impact on many employees globally. 

Julie Simpson

HR Person of the Year 2017 

Julie Simpson is the Head of Employment Relationships at The Warehouse Group. She has occupied this role for 3 years and in this time has had a substantial impact in changing the way the business views employment relations; Julie’s approach to employment relations has shifted the business from a compliance focus, to embracing commitment by empowering our Leaders to do the right thing for our team and the business. This has also had a significant impact on our customers and ultimately assisting the business to achieve our strategic objective of helping the communities of New Zealand flourish 

Z Energy

Supreme Award 2023 

With the national gender pay gap currently at 9.2% and the gender retirement gap at 20%, Z Energy has made several innovative policy changes as part of a clear path forward to narrow these gap and achieve more equitable outcomes for women and other minority groups. 

Salary transparency, an innovative KiwiSaver offering, and systematic modelling of our gender pay gap are helping us to deliver on our objective to completely close Z’s gender pay gap (currently 3.4%) by FY24. Z is normalising remuneration negotiation, equipping our people with greater financial literacy, and encouraging greater agency across all demographics. 

Bank of New Zealand

Supreme Award 2022

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. 

Kirsten Patterson, CEO of the Institute of Directors

Outstanding Service Award 2023, in association with Strategic Pay 

Paul Toulson DistFHRNZ, Massey University

Lifetime Achievement Award 2022

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.  

Geoff Summers DistFHRINZ

Lifetime Achievement Award 2020, in association with Strategic Pay 

Geoff has made an outstanding contribution to the New Zealand HR profession over the past 30  years as a subject matter expert and consultant specialising in Human Resources.  

Geoff has significant experience as Director of Human Resources within state sector organisations.  As Director and Principal Consultant with Strategic Pay he consulted to a wide range of private, public and not-for-profit organisations across New Zealand.  

Geoff is widely recognised as an expert in his field. He has served on a range of Advisory Boards, including the Governing Council of Te Wananga o Raukawa, The Samaritans Hutt Valley, Samaritans New Zealand. He was appointed by the Minister of Labour to serve on the Ministerial Committee that reviewed the Code of Good Faith for Collective Bargaining in 2004. He is currently Deputy Chair of the Remuneration Authority, a Trustee on the Wellbeing Wellington Trust and Chair of the Advisory Board of Victoria University’s Centre for Labour, Employment and Work.  

A graduate of Massey University with both an MBA and Masters in Business, Geoff has taught management skills and HR Management on the Victoria University MBA program. He has also taught Human Resource Management in International Business on Victoria University’s International MBA program at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.  

Geoff is a Past President of HRNZ and continues to be actively involved with HRNZ, including Head Judge of the annual HRNZ Awards.  Geoff’s contribution to the HR profession in New Zealand has been recognised in him being awarded a Distinguished Fellowship of HRNZ. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Management New Zealand. 

Kristen Cooper

Lifetime Achievement Award 2019, in association with Strategic Pay 

Richard Rudman

Distinguished Fellow 2019