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Women of Influence: Strong Kiwi Women the World Needs to Know

March 8, 2019 Lifestyle No Comments Email Email

Kendra Cocksedge – Rugby history-maker

Black Fern Kendra Cocksedge scored the big one when she became the first woman recipient of the Kelvin Tremain Memorial Player of the Year in December 2018 – an historic moment for New Zealand rugby. The 30-year-old halfback has worn the black jersey for 13 seasons, played in 47 tests and three World Cups (twice as winners). Much lauded for her on-field brilliance, Kendra grew up playing rugby in her hometown of New Plymouth and debuted for the Black Ferns in 2007. She now captains the Canterbury provincial team and works as a women’s rugby development officer.

Peri Drysdale –– Fashion forward

Fashion designer Peri Drysdale was well ahead of the curve when she launched sustainable lifestyle fashion brand Untouched World in 1995 and set out on a mission to show how style, luxury and great design could be produced in a way that was good to the planet. Since then both Drysdale and her clothing have received many accolades, including United Nations recognition for sustainability, and her beautiful certified organic garments have appeared on the likes of Prince Harry and Barack Obama. While the original retail store and café is still operating in Christchurch, the brand is now also sold in 49 countries, and Drysdale’s forward thinking has given her a platform to make a difference on the world stage via international collaborations.

Monique Fiso – Reframing Kiwi cuisine

Just three years ago, innovative young chef Monique Fiso returned from New York City’s Michelin-starred The Musket Room to create Hiakai [hungry]. It began with a pop-up series of events, local and international, dedicated to the development of Māori cooking techniques and ingredients, which has now evolved into a newly opened restaurant in Wellington. Fiso’s Māori and Samoan ancestors were great innovators of food and land, developing their own style of earth cookery (hāngi) and successfully adapting the indigenous flora and fauna for their meals. She leads the way in modernising these traditional foods with her exquisite fine-dining cuisine and is at the forefront of the Māori food revolution.

Jane Hunter – Winemaker extraordinaire

Born in South Australia, Jane Hunter of Hunter’s Wines in Marlborough, is a leader in the New Zealand wine industry. Jane has been described by the London Sunday Times as the First Lady of New Zealand wine and was awarded an OBE for service to the wine industry in 1993. In 2009, Jane was awarded the Companion to the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM). Hunter’s Wines is a family-owned vineyard and the cellar door is in the heart of New Zealand’s biggest wine region. Hunter’s Wines produces award-winning Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wines along with other varietals so it’s a must-visit on the Marlborough wine trail.

Louisa Patterson aka Choppy – Tourism pioneer

A pioneer of the New Zealand air tourism industry, helicopter pilot Louisa Patterson has been flying for more than 30 years. Louisa, better known as ‘Choppy’, established premium helicopter services Over The Top in 1986 to showcase southern New Zealand’s raw beauty to international guests. Since then, the multi-award-winning helicopter company has carved out a niche in the New Zealand luxury tourism market with iconic experiences utilising helicopters such as the Over The Top par 3 golf hole set on a craggy mountain top overlooking Queenstown and bespoke heli tours to some of New Zealand’s most spectacular and remote beauty spots. Over the Top’s signature black helicopters can often be seen in the skies above the Remarkables Mountain Ranges or flying over the Southern Alps to Milford Sound.


Rachel Taulelei – Food industry force

As chief executive of Top 100 New Zealand food and drinks company Kono, Rachel Taulelei has been described as a force to be reckoned with in the New Zealand food industry. The Māori-owned company employs 400-plus staff, farming land and sea (seafood, horticulture, honey, cider, wine) and exports to more than 25 countries. Rachel is passionate about sustainable production and her former roles include NZ Trade Commissioner in Los Angeles and founder of Wellington-based sustainable, seafood company Yellow Brick Road Ltd. She is an advocate for young entrepreneurial Māori women, and her many awards include University of Auckland Māori Woman Business Leader (2018), a Sir Peter Blake Leadership award (2012), and a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (2016).

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