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New Zealand business leader and Red Shoots co-founder Rhona MacKenzie shares her experiences from the recent Mana Wāhine Mission in Melbourne.

Business leader and co-founder of Auckland-based FMCG brand incubator Red Shoots, Rhona Mackenzie, was one of 26 inspirational women selected to attend the first all-women’s business delegation to Australia for the Mana Wāhine Mission; to represent Aotearoa New Zealand businesses’ interests in Australia.

The whakataukī for the inaugural all-wāhine Mission, held from the 13th to 16th of August, was “Hāpaitia te ara tika, pūmau ai te rangatiratanga, mō ngā uri whakatipu” (“Foster the pathway of knowledge to strength, independence and growth for future generations”), to help to inspire a culture of learning and working together for the greater good.

The aim of the Mission was to boost New Zealand’s export growth and deliver commercial outcomes, while helping to raise the profile of New Zealand’s exports in Australia.

During the three-day mission, delegates had the opportunity to network and gain advice from inspirational businesswomen on how to successfully conduct business in Australia.

Business leaders from a variety of companies and organisations shared their advice including ANZ, Country Road, Xero, Kantar, KeepCup, Cox Inall Ridgeway, Ngali, ACMI, and Melbourne Business School, amongst others.

Delegates also spent time with Hon Barbara Edmonds, the Minister for Economic Development and Pacific Peoples, which was a particularly special experience for Rhona.

“Having the Minister join us each day during the three-day mission was fantastic and for me,” says Rhona. “It demonstrated how much the Minister valued the role of women founders in business in New Zealand and the unique way that women operate in a business environment,”

Rhona’s key aim for attending the Mission was to deepen her understanding of how to successfully do business in Australia to ensure Red Shoots’ continued success with their Australian retail partners.

“While we’ve already started making inroads in Australia, with recent key partnerships with renowned Australian retailers Woolworths and Coles, it was great to learn from other inspirational businesswomen about the nuances of doing business in the Australian market,” she says.

After having completed the mission, Rhona (pictured below) found that one of the most positive aspects of the experience was meeting an incredible line up of women business leaders from a diverse range of businesses and sectors.

“During three whirlwind days of back-to-back talks and events, we all shared our journeys, discussed our challenges, and provided support and encouragement to each other. The trip was very much about connection, with each other and with other Australian businesses,” she says.

“I have come away from the Misson with a much deeper sense of the key differences between doing business in Australia and New Zealand.

“Best of all, I feel energised by my time spent with this incredibly powerful group of women and I am now ready and determined to take on my next challenge and to continue our growth trajectory.”

Glenn Baker

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


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