Rural woman winner

A Rotorua nursery woman is the recipient of the top award given by Rural Women NZ.

Diane Coleman has won the RWNZ Enterprising Rural Women Award 2013 announced in Christchurch on Thursday night.

Based at Ngongotaha, near Rotorua Diane also won the Love of the Land category, sponsored by Agrisea Limited of Paeroa.  

Treeline Native Nursery, which Diane started 17 years ago, grows and supplies NZ native trees, shrubs and grasses for re-vegetation and ornamental purposes. She grows 300,000 plants a year that are sold to councils, farmers, landscapers, developers and the home gardener. 

RWNZ national president Liz Evans says Diane was chosen as the Supreme Winner out of a strong field of contenders, saying she displayed “skill, calm confidence in the progress of her business and a clear awareness of her market.”

“When demand for products slowed with the 2010 economic downturn, Diane adapted to conditions, made some innovative decisions and was able to maintain production levels. Added to this, the business is rural-based, employs several rural women and gives back to the community with fund-raising support.”

The awards, now in their fifth year, offer an opportunity for rural businesswomen to shine. The aim is to showcase and celebrate rural enterprise, and this year the judges had 20 strong entries to choose from.

Other winners on the night were Jan Harper, of Bluespur Butchery in Lawrence, who won the Telecom-sponsored Help! I Need Somebody category.

As one of New Zealand’s first female butchers, Jan, who’s been in the industry since 1977, says it was a ‘dream come true’ when she opened her own business, Bluespur Butchery, in 2009. As well as selling meat to the public, a big part of the business is processing for farmers and hunters.

 A very successful exporter of animal by-products from Waipukurau took away the Making it in Rural category, sponsored by Fly Buys Ltd. Angela Payne runs Agri-lab Co-Products Ltd.

Utilising animal parts that previously may have ended up in the offal-pit, the company specialises in placenta, glands, membranes, tendons and glandular, with 90 per cent of the product exported.  This is shipped all over the world as raw products for the pharmaceutical and dietary supplements markets.

Kylie Stewart of Rangitikei Farmstay was announced as the winner of the Stay, Play, Rural Award, sponsored by Access Homehealth Ltd. Her 1500acre farm has been in the family since 1901 and Kylie has breathed new life into many of the old buildings to create attractive accommodation for up to 19 guests at a time who come from all over the world.

The judging panel also decided this year to give a special Rural Women NZ Encouragement Award. This went to Lee Lamb, a young farming woman who lives in Waikaia, Southland.

As her children grew, she was unable to find New Zealand farm-themed books to read to them and decided to write and illustrate her own.  A self-taught writer and painter, Lee was also determined to have her books printed in New Zealand. She now has four titles - On the Farm Shearing; On the Farm Autumn Muster; On the Farm Milking Time; and On the Farm Harvest.

In congratulating all the winners, Liz says, “running a successful business anywhere in today’s competitive economy is not easy. It takes time, commitment, money and a passion to succeed. And, of course, you have to have the initial idea to get started.

“And, in the rural context, the start-up and ability to keep going can produce even more challenges. The logistics of running a business away from a centralised urban area can throw up hurdles such as access to prompt transport and communication – not to mention extra costs of freight and postage.  All our winners have jumped those hurdles.”

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