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2024 Awards Winners

2024 NZ HR Awards winners announced! 


Last night, 500 leading HR professionals came together at the sold-out NZ HR Awards to celebrate the exceptional Human Resources professionals and organisations driving positive change and best practices throughout Aotearoa. 

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

Celebrating its 25th year, the NZ HR Awards, hosted by Human Resources New Zealand (HRNZ) in association with Principal Partners AMP &, recognising excellence and outstanding achievements within New Zealand’s HR community. Congratulations to all entrants, finalists, and award winners! 

HRNZ's thanks goes out to our valued Sponsors AMP & (Principal Partners), Alex Hagan, Complete Learning Solutions, H2R Consulting, Inspire Group, Lane Neave, PeopleEx, recuritHRpeople, Strategic Pay and Tonkin + Taylor Group.  

So, without further ado, HRNZ is thrilled to announce the winners of the prestigious NZ HR Awards for 2024... 


Individual Award Winners:  

  • HR Professional of the YearNatasha Holoway, Fliway Group 
  • Emerging HR Practitioner of the Year in association with recruitHRpeople - Grace Coffey, Access Community Health 
  • HR Student of the YearLetisha White, The University of Otago 
  • Leadership Award in association with Inspire Group - Mark Lewis, Connetics 
  • Outstanding Service Award in association with Strategic Pay - Julia Stones DistFHRNZ,  
  • HR Person of the Year in association with Lane Neave - Karli Te Aotonga,  Ministry of Education 


Individual / Organisation Categories 

  • Volunteer(s) of the Year AwardWaikato Branch Committee 
  • Mana Tangata – Emerging Māori HR Award in association with Tonkin and Taylor Group - Te Whatu Ora - Tū Tangata Tū Rangatira 
  • Mana Tangata – Leader Māori HR Award in association with Tonkin and Taylor Group - Karli Te Aotonga, Ministry of Education 


Organisation Categories  

  • Talent Acquistion Award in association with H2R Consulting - Flight Centre Travel Group 
  • Learning and Development Award in association with Complete Learning Solutions [Small to Medium Organisations] - Coastguard Tautiaki Moana 
  • Learning and Development Award in association with Complete Learning Solutions [Large Organisations] - Tauranga City Council 
  • Diversity and Inclusion Award - Chorus 
  • Wellness Programme Award in association with AMP & - The Strand Veterinarian  
  • Future of Work Award in association with Alex Hagan - Port of Auckland 
  • Building Sustainability through People Award in association with PeopleEX - Hind Management & Sudima Hotels  
  • HRNZ Supreme Award in association with AMP & - The Strand Veterinarian 


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 and shine a light on some of the best practices from our leading organisations. For our 2024 Awards we had our highest ever number of entries across less categories than in previous years. This made for an especially challenging judging process. For those who have made the list of finalists tonight this is already an excellent achievement, Congratulations to all those who submitted entries and to all our finalists and Award winners.” 

Our Principal Partners AMP & also shared that they are “delighted to be Platinum Sponsors of this year’s HRNZ awards.” 

About the Special Award Winners... 

HR Person of the Year 

The HR person of the Year is selected from one of the individual award winners, who has shown the greatest overall leadership in HR practice. 

It was a special night for Karli Te Aotonga, who won the Mana Tangata – Leader Māori HR Award and the HR Person of the Year Award. Karli is known as the HR leader of the future. She is energetic and committed, and her energy brings people together. All the work Karli does results in tangible improvements in outcomes for Māori in the workplace – at a national scale. 

HRNZ Supreme Award 

The HRNZ Supreme Award is awarded to the organstion showing greatest overall leadership in HR practice. In 2024, this award went to The Strand Veterinarian who was also the winner of the Wellness Programme Award for their Vet Thrive Six Shield Programme, helping the company achieve a lower staff turnover rate.  

Outstanding Service Award 

Outstanding Service award recognises HR professionals who have served as a respected HR Professional or Academic and have helped to shape the profession and change the way that HR is perceived in the wider business community over an extended period of time. 

The Outstanding Service Award was presented to Julia Stones. Julia has led a remarkable journey shaped by resilience, passion for justice, and dedication to HR excellence. Beginning her career as a linguist and transitioning to marketing before finding her calling in recruitment, she eventually settled in New Zealand in 2005. Over the next 14 years, she dedicated herself to volunteering with HRNZ, making a significant impact as Auckland Branch President and contributing to various HR initiatives. Her commitment to excellence and service has earned her recognition as a Distinguished Fellow of HRNZ.  

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 best HR practice. 

HR Professional of the Year, Natasha Holloway CMHRNZ (Fliway Group) serves as the General Manager - HR, Safety and Communications. As a key member of the executive team, she oversees all aspects related to people within the company. Natasha works closely with C-Suite executives and General Managers to ensure the company achieves its overall goals. Over her 12 years with the business, Natasha has implemented various initiatives aimed at creating a better and safer work environment. These efforts have resulted in reduced turnover, increased engagement, improved safety culture, and more.  

Mark Lewis, the Head of People and Culture at Connectics and recipient of the Leadership Award, has assumed responsibility for managing the people aspect of the business, including operational HR, talent acquisition and management, and organisational change and development. Upon his arrival, the organisation encountered significant challenges. Mark's exceptional leadership and expertise in various areas enabled him to empower his team to quickly tackle these challenges, resulting in the stabilisation and growth of a skilled workforce. 

Emerging HR Practitioner of the Year award went to Grace Coffey, the Senior Employee Relations Advisor at Access Community Health. Grace provides strategic advice to Senior Leadership, oversees professional development for a team of HR Administrators, assists with the resolution of employment issues, creates and maintains policies, is a driver for projects within the People Function and holds the role of union secretariat. Grace is passionate about creating a fair and inclusive workplace for all Access Kaimahi.  

Letisha White (University of Otago), Student Ambassador in 2023, and current member of the HRNZ committee is the winner of the HR Student of the Year Award. As an HRNZ Student Ambassador Letisha organised three impactful events, including “Korero with Professionals,” inspiring students to join HRNZ. Her role at the Career Development Centre, along with studies in employment relations, leadership and strategic HRNZ is equipping her for a career in HR.  


About the Mana Tangata Award Winners 

The Award is for individuals/organisations who have implemented significant programmes that involve integrating Māori cultural values and tikanga into their practices including HRM policies. 

Te Whatu Ora - Tū Tangata Tū Rangatira has won the inaugural Emerging Māori HR Award for their Māori Leadership Development programme - Tū Tangata Tū Rangatira. This programme combines research-based examples from both Māori and Pākehā leadership methods to develop their Māori workforce. The programme has surpassed expectations, leading to increased engagement and well-being scores, decreased staff turnover, enhanced diversity and awareness internally, and improved engagement with mana whenua and understanding of the communities they serve externally. 

The Leader Māori HR Award was presented to Karli Te Aotonga. Karli is driven by her commitment to represent and uphold the collective aspirations and values of her Whānau, hapū, and iwi, viewing it as her born leadership obligation. In her role as Manager Ao Māori Capability at Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga, Ministry of Education, Karli has spearheaded system-level change, guiding others in delivering Māori leadership advice to enhance Māori-Crown Relations capability. She has significantly shaped the knowledge base of the HR profession in Aotearoa by co-creating HRNZ’s pilot Transforming HRM programme. Karli has also achieved a master's degree and embarked on a PhD, focusing on Māori and indigenous thesis. 

About the Volunteer(s) of the Year Award  

The Volunteer of the Year Award recognises the work and impact and commitment of the volunteers within the HR community. Submissions for this award can be made by an individual or group, as well as by HRNZ’s various branch committees.  

The Waikato Branch committee has been awarded the Volunteer(s) of the Year Award for their outstanding contributions. Their Member Engagement and Connection Plan, implemented in 2023, has resulted in significant positive outcomes, including increased event attendance, enhanced social media presence, and growth in Branch membership and participation.

About the Organisational Awards Categories 

These categories are designed for organisational entries who have shown excellence in specific functional areas. 

Flight Centre Travel Group received the Talent Acquisition Award for their innovative approach to address the candidate shortage. Their initiative showcased exceptional leadership, thorough problem analysis, and solution development. They prioritized diversity and inclusion and devised innovative solutions such as an Alumni communications channel, internal career pathways advice, and revamped advertising and interview processes. These efforts led to a substantial increase in their candidate pool and a more efficient hiring process, demonstrating their commitment to innovation, HR leadership, and fostering an inclusive workplace. 

Coastguard Tautiaki Moana received the Learning and Development Award [Small Organisation] for their Learning Management System, which offers a modern and self-paced learning experience. This system has improved the volunteer experience, leading to better retention and reducing the risk of not having enough trained volunteers for their mission of Saving Lives at Sea. It also helps ensure health and safety and lays the groundwork for workforce planning. 

The Learning and Development Award [Large Organisations] went to Tauranga City Council for the implementation of their People Leadership development program. This initiative aimed to tackle identified organisational and cultural issues that were hindering their ability to deliver transport and housing enablement infrastructure. This program has resulted in a significant increase in staff engagement, commitment, and productivity. 

Chorus received the Diversity and Inclusion Award for their DE&I Strategy, which aligns with their refreshed business strategy focused on promoting "A diverse, inclusive, and adaptive Chorus" and collaborating on the Sustainability Pillar of "Thriving People" as core objectives. These objectives have gained significant traction across Chorus. DE&I initiatives and programmes are well-supported and integrated into the company's Learning and Development (L&D) program. Chorus continues to enhance diversity at leadership levels and within their talent pool. 

The Wellness Programme Award was awarded to The Strand Veterinarian for their Vet Thrive Six Shield Programme. This initiative helps them to identify and protect employees from psychological hazards in the workplace. The company’s mental health and wellbeing programme has contributed significantly to their ability to recruit and retrain veterinary professionals. Despite global shortages in the veterinary field, the company has achieved a lower staff turnover rate. 

Port of Auckland won the Future of Work Award for their Culture Strategy, promoting strong collaborative relationships between management, unions, front-line workers, and the Taumata responsible for Māori outcomes. The strategy emphasizes a "High Performance High Engagement" approach, prioritizing respectful engagement and collaboration with all stakeholders. This cultural shift has been recognised by unions and other stakeholders as a significant change, leading to notable improvements in safety, customer satisfaction, and commercial performance for the Port. It marks a remarkable turnaround for the organisation. 

The Building Sustainability through People Award went to Hind Management & Sudima Hotels for their comprehensive sustainability initiative, integrating sustainability into all aspects of their operations. They established a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion framework, formed 'Care Teams' for environmental sustainability, and prioritized inclusive recruitment practices. Through cultural realignment and employee training, they achieved remarkable improvements in employee engagement and sustainability milestones, including Toitū carbon certification for several hotels. Their commitment to diversity is reflected in leadership composition and employee demographics, creating an inclusive workplace culture where everyone feels valued and empowered to contribute.  

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