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For the first time ever, the French business community in New Zealand recently gathered together to celebrate its highest achievers ever across various sectors in the ‘French Business Awards’.

They were presented in Auckland at an inaugural black-tie Gala to mark the 35th Anniversary of the French New Zealand Chamber of Commerce before the French Ambassador to New Zealand, Her Excellency Ms Sylvaine Carta Le-Vert, the President of the French New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, Thibault Beaujot and a capacity audience of nearly three hundred guests.

Well supported by the who’s who of the French business, banking, IT, retail, hospitality, sporting and diplomatic community guests included the Foreign Affairs Under Secretary Mr Fletcher Tabuteau, dignitaires from New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, MEDEF International (Movement of the Enterprises of France) the largest employer federation in France, the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, BusinessNZ and even a former French rugby international, Tony Marsh.

“This evening is historic. It officially acknowledges the most outstanding performers of French business excellence in this country, plus it’s an opportunity to reflect on the long lasting friendship and strengthening business relationship between New Zealand, France and French Pacific Territories,” said Beaujot.

Five of the award categories were judged by a jury that included the New Zealand Trade Enterprise (NZTE) Trade Commissioner to France, Ariane Gonzalez, Andrew Carpenter Investment Specialist at ATEED, Vanessa Bonnet Economic Counsellor for Australia and the Pacific at the French Embassy in Australia and Antoine Chery Head of the French Regional Economic Service for Australia and the South Pacific for the French Government and Beaujot of the FNZCCI.

The two French gastronomy awards attracted over two thousand ‘people’s choice’ votes on Le Petit Journal, a French news portal. Members of the public voted on the standard of food, service, price, reputation, authenticity, general atmosphere, social media and “French touch”. Entries were Whangarei in North down to Queenstown in the South.

The winners of the seven awards were: 

  1. Maison Vauron | Winner of Best French Importer – Maison Vauron started twenty years ago to share the “savoire faire” of the French way with Kiwis. Founded by Jean-Christophe Poizat who’s followed in the footsteps of his wine merchant great-great-grandfather, Antoine Vauron. Maison Vauron is a hub of gastronomy and wine offerings, tastings – even with a travel division. It’s recognised as a pre-eminent importer and distributor of French cheese, wine and speciality goods in NewZealand. Jean-Christophe received the medal, ‘Ordre du Merité agricole’ by the French Ambassador in 2010 recognising his services to French agriculture.
  2. Sistema Plastics | Best Kiwi Exporter – Sistema was one man’s dream, it started in a garage in 2014 to now having a 200,000 square foot factory in South Auckland that designs, manufactures and exports lifestyle products (plastic water bottles/kitchen storage containers) to 110 countries with a forecast of over 6,600,000 Euro. Sistema has battled intense competition and a raft of challenges including compliancy with the French tax laws to now be on the shelves of every major French supermarket, specialty and department store.
  3. Link Alliance | Best French Kiwi Partnership Award – The Link Alliance is an innovative engineering, design and construction consortium of seven companies that deliver large scale infrastructure projects such as the City Rail Link project in New Zealand. The companies are: City Rail Link Limited, Vinci Construction Grands Projets S.A.S., Downer NZ Limited, Soletranche Bachy International NZ Limited, WSP Opus (NZ) Limited, AECOM New Zealand Limited and Tonkin + Taylor Limited. The City Rail Project can’t come soon enough given over 100 million public transport journeys were made last year by the population of Auckland alone.
  4. L’Authentique Charcuterie | Best French SME – L’Authentique Charcuterie produces a premium range of artisan products in a typically French way that are gluten, dairy, chemical free products using free range animals. The company puts no fillers or flavourings in their products making the range completely allergen free. It also produces cooked parfaits, pâtés, terrines and rillettes that are preserved and presented beautifully in glass jars – 3,000 of them per week and climbing.
  5. New Zealand Services | Best French Tech Award – New Zealand Services using innovative technology solutions provides a comprehensive suite of services for clients who wish to immigrate, invest, study or visit New Zealand. Using technology it assists clients with feasibility assessments of their intended move to NZ, potential business ventures and beyond. Twice a month it organises Facebook Live conferences about diversified topics ranging from commercial fund management, immigration updates, study options and more to ensure clients have a “soft landing” upon arrival in the country given it’s a major life changing event.
  6. Vaniyé Patisserie | Best French Bakery – Vaniyé is a boutique high-end French patisserie that hand crafts from scratch contemporary art-like cakes, desserts, and artisanal chocolates alongside traditional favourites like croissants and baguettes. Known for its immaculate display of jewel-like desserts and flaky, buttery croissants that customers come from all over the country to buy. Not only passionate about what they do and the product ingredients they source, Vaniyé cares about the people – it’s team of colleagues and clients the main motivating factor for the owner, Sonia Haumonté.
  7. L’Atalier du Fromage | Best French Restaurant – L’Atelier du Fromage is famous for its ‘plat du jour’ and offers the widest range of French wine and cheese to keep the homesick French traveller or Kiwis wanting to reconnect with their gastronomic favourites very happy.


“The French Chamber exists today thanks to the vision of Alain Geron and Christian Jean-Louis who were French entrepreneurs, freshly arrived in New Zealand that thought it would be lots more fun and efficient to network informally around a bottle of French red wine. Although our organisation has since evolved and structured itself to become an official business association but we never lost this spirit,”  Beaujot said.

After the Māori pōwhiri and official welcome during the formalities of the Gala, Mr Jean-Louis was presented by the FNZCCI President and Members of the Board with a specially minted medal recognising his pivotal part in the foundation of the French Chamber. 

Organisers intend to hold the Awards annually.

Glenn Baker

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


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