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A Bay of Plenty business dedicated to “the art of growing for a healthier world” is the supreme winner of the New Zealand International Business Awards 2021, announced on 17 February at the Awards’ first-ever broadcast ceremony.

The Supreme Award winner, Bluelab, provides high-precision measurement technology for controlled environment agriculture, including greenhouses, vertical farms and hydroponic production. Operating for more than 30 years, Bluelab is internationally recognised as an industry leader, and provides tools and systems to measure critical factors like pH, temperature and moisture levels when growing plants in controlled environments.

Bluelab’s products are designed, manufactured and exported globally from its base of operations in Tauranga. Bluelab previously won the Excellence in Innovation category at the New Zealand International Business Awards 2019.

As well as the Supreme Award chosen by a panel of judges, Bluelab earlier won a category award for Excellence in Digital Commerce Transformation, presented by the Minister for Economic and Regional Development, Stuart Nash.

Judges described Bluelab as a worthy Supreme Award winner, with its success driven by a high level of customer understanding and being present at every step of the customer journey. They also praised Bluelab’s embrace of digital channels to enhance both customer experience and their own business resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A record 53 finalists made it through to the last stages of the awards for 2021, following a rigorous application and judging process. Winners were chosen by an independent panel of judges with extensive experience in growing businesses internationally.

The ceremony was delivered via a free online broadcast for the first time in the Awards’ 58-year history, in response to New Zealand’s move to the red traffic light setting in late January.

Four new awards for 2021 were presented at the ceremony: Innovation in Response to COVID-19; Leveraging Investment for International Growth; Excellence in Digital Commerce Transformation; and Excellence in Sustainability, brought to you by ANZ. A special award was also presented to Moa Holdings NZ Limited for Extraordinary Growth in Emerging Business, alongside the overall winner for Best Emerging Business, Dawn Aerospace.

David Downs, convenor of judges for the Awards, said: “After an incredibly challenging two years in business, it was a pleasure to be able to recognise our extraordinary finalists and reveal the winners of this year’s awards.

“Taking the event online was a big step for us, but it gave us a uniquely public platform to share some of the amazing business stories we encountered during judging and I’m sure there were a lot of proud people watching up and down the country.

“These businesses have really done Aotearoa proud, they’re making remarkable progress in international markets, and they’re bringing the results of that progress home to benefit all of us. I think that is worth shouting from the rooftops.”


For more information on the awards visit


The New Zealand International Business Awards 2021 winners are:


Best Emerging Business

Winner: Dawn Aerospace – (Christchurch)

Named New Zealand’s Hi-Tech Start-Up of the Year in 2020, Dawn Aerospace provides high-performance green-propellant satellite propulsion to customers globally, and is developing a same-day reusable spaceplane, with five test flights here in New Zealand last July.

Judges described Dawn Aerospace as an innovative and audacious business with strong commercial acumen, essential for a business competing in the high-profile and highly competitive space arena. Their focus on owning their niche and working with customers that have aligned values are also promising for their continued growth and their long-term economic contribution to Aotearoa. 

Highly Commended: Auror, Auckland; Dinosaur Polo Club, Wellington


Extraordinary Growth in Emerging Business – special award

Winner: Moa Holdings NZ Limited – (Auckland)

Moa Holdings is building a relentlessly simple retail, marketing and distribution platform, simplifying the complex world of selling online and helping great New Zealand brands to rapidly and profitably get their products to consumers around the world. 

Judges praised Moa Holdings as a phenomenal success story, with impressive export growth over the last 18 months achieved through operational excellence, a team culture that ties their global model together, and a wider vision of helping brands from Aotearoa to find lasting success internationally. 


Excellence in Digital Commerce Transformation

Winner: Bluelab – (Tauranga)

Bluelab is recognised as the industry standard for high-precision measurement technology in controlled environment agriculture – now shared with the world through a bold and transformative digital commerce strategy. 

Bluelab’s team impressed the judges with their whole-business approach to digital transformation, and their achievement in executing an insightful digital strategy in months, not years, in response to the pandemic. This work has already proven its value through strong growth and confidence of further success in key international markets. 

Highly Commended: Yu Mei, Wellington


Excellence in Sustainability, brought to you by ANZ

Winner: Better Packaging Co- (Auckland)

The team at Better Packaging Co believe waste is a design flaw, and are on a mission to design the waste out of packaging through innovative materials, systems rethink, education, communication and clever design.  

Judges were blown away by the sustainable impact the Better Packaging Co have created, at remarkable scale and soon after launching their business. Judges describe their growth as a fantastic story of taking New Zealand to the world – with entrepreneurs coming together fuelled by brilliant ideas and focussed on outcomes.

Highly Commended: Cogo, Wellington


Inspiring Women Leaders, brought to you by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Winner: Dr Elizabeth Berry, chnnl –  (Auckland)

Dr Berryman brings a wealth of experience in the health sector, including ten years of clinical governance experience, to her role as Founder and Director of chnnl Ltd – helping employers and employees to transform their organisations through the power of psychological safety.  

Judges recognised Dr Berryman as an authentic, genuine leader who knows her stuff – with a focus on empowering other leaders and members of her team to “bring their special sauce” and move the dial for chnnl’s customers and the people they employ. She also models proactive resilience as a leader, achieving the right balance to sustain the effort of growing an international business. 

Highly Commended: Katherine Corich, The Sysdoc Group, Wellington; Lisa Ebbing, Hotmilk Lingerie, Tauranga; Jessie Wong, Yu Mei, Wellington


Innovation in Response to COVID-19

Winner: Les Mills International – (Auckland)

Les Mills International is the global leader in group fitness – with programs delivered by certified instructors across 100 countries, and available as live, livestream virtual and immersive classes, as well as the via Les Mills On Demand streaming platform.  

Judges praised Les Mills International for rapidly diversifying their service offerings and adopting a digital mindset, with the huge success of Les Mills On Demand transforming the outlook for their business as they adapted to COVID-19 – all while maintaining existing relationships to help ensure a diverse, robust future for a New Zealand export success story. 


Leveraging Investment for International Growth

Winner: Fuel50 – (Auckland)

Founded in Auckland, Fuel50 is an AI talent marketplace, harnessing data and insights to help its worldwide customers unleash internal talent, retain staff, and build agile and capable workforces to drive future success. 

Powered by a dedicated team of 90 “fuellies”, including their full in-house R&D and engineering team based in New Zealand, Fuel50 is making smart use of investment to support strong international growth into Europe and the United States. With a further 30 team members being added this year, their success is delivering value for their customers, for their investors, and for New Zealand. 

Highly Commended: Whip Around, Auckland


He kai kei aku ringa for Māori Excellence in Export

Winner: Global Metal Solutions – (Hamilton)

A whānau-owned and led business with its roots in Ngāti Maniapoto, Global Metal Solutions provides premium metal recycling services in Aotearoa and the Pacific to help ensure a safer, cleaner future for our planet. 

Judges were impressed by Global Metal Solutions’ authenticity as a Māori owned and operated business, with tikanga Māori integral to their operations and driving their unique advantage in an industry built on relationships. Putting people at the centre and balancing commercial and cultural priorities, Global Metal Solutions represents a uniquely Māori export success story. 


Best Established Business, brought to you by ANZ

Winner: Seequent –  (Christchurch)

Seequent delivers industry-leading software for earth modelling, geo-data management and team collaboration – helping customers in more than 100 countries to see the full picture and make better decisions for people and the planet. 

A previous Supreme Award winner at the New Zealand International Business Awards 2018, Seequent impressed judges again in 2021 with their focus on continuous improvement and reinvention, their growth potential in established and emerging target sectors, and their clear vision, values, purpose and culture as they continue to raise the bar for their competitors and themselves. 

Highly Commended: Golden Bay Fruit, Motueka; Natural Pet Food Group, Christchurch

Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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