This year’s Westpac Otago Business Awards, which has run every two years for the past 20 years, had 140 entries from 71 businesses in the 16 categories, plus two other awards.
More than 440 people attended the awards, held at the Dunedin Town Hall. Mitre 10 Mega Dunedin and Mitre 10 Mosgiel won the Excellence in Retail Award, before going on to be named Supreme Winner.
Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan said the awards were a great celebration of business.
"We’ve everything here in Otago, from a large primary sector, unparalleled scenery on which we’ve built New Zealand’s premier tourist destination, outstanding educational facilities, a world-leading tech sector and soon to be the country’s deepest port.
"The list goes on," he said.
The Westpac Otago Business Awards celebrated those with the courage to turn the tall poppy syndrome on its head as well as the many innovative, passionate, creative and "downright courageous people and businesses" in the region, he said.
"Sometimes we forgot to celebrate this. We have a tendency to not want to put our heads above the parapet in fear of the Kiwi affliction — tall poppy syndrome."
That courage could be seen down through history, from New Zealand’s first settlement by Polynesians, who had the courage to travel oceans, and the first Chinese migrants during the gold rush, to Europeans arriving in large numbers and developing the land, and latterly refugees, he said.
Judges said of the Supreme Winner, Mitre 10 Mega Dunedin and Mitre 10 Mosgiel, the businesses had an inclusive, culturally driven strategy to create overall service excellence, with "tenacity, passion and energy always winning the day".
Dunedin businesswoman Sarah Ramsay won the Future Business Leader Award.
She is managing director of consultancy and angel investment firm Immersion Ventures, and commercial director of United Machinists in Dunedin, which she owns with her husband.
Judges said she was a "whirlwind of energy and constructive ideas, generous with her time and leads from front to effect collaborative change, plus community engagement and involvement".
The winner of the City of Dunedin Mayor’s Award for Business Personality, Judith Mair, was site manager at Cadbury in Dunedin, her job including having to oversee its closure with a loss of about 360 jobs.
In a statement, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said despite the "difficult and unsettling time", Ms Mair focused her passion, commitment and energy on her staff, in a bid to prepare them for life beyond Cadbury.
Westpac Otago Business Awards 2018. —
• Supreme winner: Mitre 10 Mega Dunedin and Mitre 10 Mosgiel
• Youth Employment Success Future Business Leader: Sarah Ramsay
• The City of Dunedin Mayor’s business personality award: Judith Mair.
SECTOR EXCELLENCE AWARDS
• Select Recruitment Excellence in Service: Gallaway Cook Allan
• Otago Daily Times Excellence in Retail: Mitre 10 Mega Dunedin and Mitre 10 Mosgiel
• Enterprise Dunedin Excellence in Tourism & Hospitality: Larnach Castle
• Port Otago Excellence in Distribution & Logistics: Agility Logistics
• Otago Southland Manufacturing Association Excellence in Manufacturing & Technology: United Machinists
• Anderson Lloyd Excellence in Primary Industry: Landpro Ltd
• Otago Community Trust Excellence in Not for Profit: Football South.
BUSINESS PRACTICE AWARDS
• Grow Dunedin Partnership Emerging Business: Contego
• Ngai Tahu Holdings Maori Business: Te Kaika
• NZ Trade and Enterprise International Business: First Table
• Vodafone Marketing & Promotion: NZ Ski
• University of Otago Business School Innovation: Otago Museum
• Otago Polytechnic Sustainable Business Practices: Pioneer Energy Ltd
• Bedpost Dunedin Business Integrity: McDonald’s Dunedin
• ACC Workplace Safety: Pure Services