The Northern Advocate Business Hall of Fame Award


The Northern Advocate Business Hall of Fame Award Presented at the Awards Presentation and Celebration evening.

In New Zealand we see great profiling sporting heroes and public servants.

However, business people – in particular successful business people – often go without the recognition they deserve and in some cases, receive negative stigma as a result of their efforts and achievements.

The Northern Advocate and NorthChamber recognise that the efforts of individual business people are actually the fuel that keeps the economy running.  Business people through their individual efforts risk capital, provide jobs, and oil the wheels of the economy.

The Northern Advocate Business Hall of Fame is therefore designed to recognise those who have, during their business career, demonstrated service both to their industry and to the greater Northland community.


Nominations have now closed for 2023 

Any member of the public can nominate someone for The Northern Advocate Business Hall of Fame. Self-nominations and posthumous nominations may also be accepted.


Past Inductees

2023 – Barry Trass


2022 – Lindsay Faithfull

McKay’s history dates back to 1936 when Tom McKay founded the company in Northland. Lindsay’s father Joe Faithfull was brought in as a partner in the 1950’s. By the 1980’s Tom had sold the entire company to Joe. Joe Faithfull worked hard on expanding the business, while Lindsay started out his career at McKay as an electrical power systems engineer. Lindsay continued to progress his career within the business, becoming the General Manager in 1992. In 2017 Joe passed away, leaving the foundation of what McKay is built on today.

Over the past 30 years Lindsay has expanded the business, with over 500 staff dispersed nationally. McKay now offers services in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, and Otago. Mckay has a number of major contracts, including with the RNZ Navy at Devonport, and is working on two huge New Zealand projects – The New Zealand Conference Centre in Auckland and the Waikeria Prison Development.

Other work the company is involved in, which Faithfull says is the way of the future, is building electric boats, and it has already helped build six – three hybrid craft in the US and three fully electric vessels in New Zealand, including the first carbon fibre electric ferry Ika Rere that is operating in Wellington.

2021 – Raewyn Tipene

Raewyn Tipene (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine), founder and CEO of He Puna Mārama Trust Group, is being celebrated by her peers for her success in business, technology and education, and is the first Māori wahine to join the hall of fame.

Starting far afield as an earth scientist in Australia, Tipene was called back home by an urge to make a difference for her whānau

She began her local engagements as a board member of Te Rūnanga ā Iwi o Ngāpuhi and chairwoman of Te Rūnanga O Ngati Hine, and was significantly involved in the Kia ora Ngāpuhi Housing organisation which assisted 700 whānau into homeownership as well as the Ngati Hine Radio.

In 1997, Tipene launched the He Puna Mārama Trust which gave her more opportunities to directly deal with people.

Through the trust, Tipene launched five Mokopuna Early Childhood Centres, two kura (Te Kāpehu Whetū) as well as several business and technology programmes.

The education project Tipene is most fond of is Tai Tama Tāne, the Leadership Academy of A Company, which “is linking boys to something bigger than they ever thought they could be part of”.

The academy pays tribute to the 28th Māori Battalion aspiring to build Māori leaders and has seen more than 200 graduates, many of whom have gone on to higher learning or trades.

As part of its current project, the He Puna Mārama has bought some acres of land in Hikurangi and is planning to build 10-14 affordable houses for first home buyers.

Tipene said the people she has been working with have earned just as much recognition for those achievements.

2020 – Sandra McKersey

Sandra McKersey lives in Whangarei, New Zealand, a mum to two adult daughters, grandmother to six and great- grandmother to two. She started training organisation People Potential Ltd as a small family business with her late husband Eddie in 1991. Over 30 years it evolved to include five campuses and employ over 100 people. Sandra says the secret to success in business, “surround yourself with clever people who have skills you don’t have,” she also says, “everyone who has spent part of their life journey with the business brought their own special qualities, most importantly they brought their heart to work as well as their skills!”

It is evident that Sandra too has brought her heart and skills to all that she has put her hand to over the years. Qualifying with a Bachelor of Education from Massey University, later studies included a degree in Applied Business Management. She served as the President of the NZ Association of Private Tertiary Educators during which time a Quality Commission was established to self-regulate the industry. In 2010 she was awarded the Queens Service Medal for services to education and the community.

Sandra has been a Rotarian for almost thirty years working both nationally and internationally in a wide range of roles, including being the first woman in New Zealand to serve as District Governor. She has been an International Trainer in San Diego, presently serves as the Chair of the Rotary Action Group Rotarians for Family Health and Aids Prevention and is a member of the Cadre of Technical Advisers, who audit projects supported by The Rotary Foundation.

Her work and travel with Rotary have taken her to many places in the world some of which have touched her deeply such as the Alhai Amizuddin Orphanage in Bangladesh which she continues to support helping to open a library and computer lab. She is involved in the business community there too, supporting a project offering employment and training to unskilled young men in the food industry. The goal is to eventually have a training institution which will allow these men to gain qualifications. Sandra was the recipient of the 2018/2019 Service Above Self award, the highest award to be given to a Rotarian.

It is obvious Sandra’s heart and skills have been invested in her home-town Whangarei too. She is a passionate supporter of “anything which adds to the economic and social growth of Whangarei.” Included among her many local interests are Hundertwasser, the Camera Obscura project and The Whangarei Rolling Ball Clock. From Skydiving to skeet-shooting and half marathons Sandra continues to take on challenges in every aspect of her life. Breaking ground for women again, in 2020 Sandra is the first female to be inducted into The Northern Advocate Business Hall of Fame, and she is to be congratulated on her enormous contribution to business and community.

2019 – Kaka Porowini

Kaka Porowini was a much respected leader during a period of time when the Maori world was under huge pressure and why many people responded to him and his vision. Kaka Porowini was born at Te Tii around 1857, the youngest son out of 4 children to Naki and Wi Te Hakiro. His eldest brother passed away leaving his wife and two children. As a way of taking care of everyone, Kaka married the widow and they went on to have another 11 children together.

One of the many kaupapa that Kaka Porowini has been remembered for, is his leadership in introducing a telephone system to the wider community. Kaka connected the telephone lines that covered hundreds of miles through deep native bush. His crews strung out the lines and built his telephone exchange. He was literally one of the very first Maori in business as a contractor in Northland.

Everyone who was connected to the system also knew that if there was one long continuous ring then it was Kaka calling and everyone would pick up the phone on a ‘party line’ – today this would be called a ‘conference call’. Apparently there were up to 150 different whanau who were part of this phone system and this is how Kaka kept in touch with everyone.

The strong influence of Kaka Porowini extended from the early 1900’s through to his death in 1942.

Kaka and his wife Te Paea lived in a Victorian house with five double bedrooms housing their many children. It had a large service kitchen and many outbuildings. Women managed the gardens, estimated to be seven miles long, that’s ABOUT 11kms of gardens, and two hundred cows produced milk – you have to imagine how all that milking was  done 100 years ago!  He started a bank for his hapu & workers, again demonstrating his business prowess.

Kaka ran for parliament and although he didn’t get elected, he received strong support. His interest in social matters and his concern about the effects of urban life were apparently the key reasons for his move into Whangarei in 1920. There he bought a plot of land from his friend, Frank Mander and had a large house built on what is now the site of the whare-kai of the Terenga Paraoa marae in Whangarei City.

The marae is known more as the Kaka Porowini marae but this is actually the name of the whare-hui. The two streets in the vicinity – ‘Porowini’ Ave and ‘Kaka’ Street were named by Kaka’s friend, Frank Mander, who served as a local MP for 20 years. After Kaka died in 1942, his whanau committed to donating the whare and section “for the Maori people of Whangarei” who they believed would follow Kaka’s dream of giving to endure.

Kaka Porowini was buried at the wahi tapu established at the Nama-tahi settlement named Wai-heke when he passed away in 1942, at about 85 years of age.

Words by Charmaine Soljak, Radio Announcer at NZME.

2018 – Stan Semenoff

2017 – The Hundertwasser Art Centre Project Team

To learn more about The Hundertwasser Art Centre Project Team click here

2016 – Jack Guy

A successful businessman Mr Guy, aged 89, started out as an apprentice carpenter with Ted Guy, his father, in 1944. In 1952 he went out on his own, and began a career that would encompass local body politics, philanthropy and extensive civic duties.

Jack Guy Ltd’s first contract was working on the Ruatangata West School. The business grew in the 1950s and 60s, sometimes building homes at a rate of one per week. But schools and light commercial buildings were the firm’s forte. Into the late 60s and early 70s, building gangs operated in Auckland and Northland.

In the 80s Jack Guy Ltd ran the largest commercial construction company in Northland, employing 124 staff at its peak, and completed contracts from Te Kao to Point Chevalier. It built schools, supermarkets, hospitals, factories, including the Kauri Dairy factory, apartments and office buildings in virtually every town and district in Northland and Rodney.

Attention shifted to property development, building, in partnerships, more than 70 retail premises and office spaces in Kerikeri and Whangarei. He also invested in the self-storage industry and still retains a significant interest in property in the Whangarei CBD.

Along the way Mr Guy became involved in the community. He joined the Whangarei Lions Club in 1961 and was still a member 35 years later. In 1974 Mr Guy rose to occupy the top position in NZ as chairman of the council of governors. Mr Guy has also been a huge supporter of St John. In 1970 he bought an ambulance and donated it to the Whangarei branch. A long-time St John committee member, he was awarded a Life Membership of the Order of St John in 1993.

In 1986 Mr Guy was elected to the Northland Regional Council (NRC) and remained for nine years. In 1989 he was appointed to the Board of Northland Port Corporation and was on the board for 10
years, much of the time as chairman. Mr Guy has supported numerous committees and charitable causes throughout his life. Thirty years ago he founded the Jack Guy Charitable Trust. The trust granted numerous scholarships to Northland students attending university.

2015 – Jeroen Jongejans

Jeroen Jongejans is a director of Dive! Tutukaka, which employs eight fulltime staff and 30 returning seasonal staff. With a drive for innovation, Jeroen is highly visible as a tourism leader and has showed strong principles – sitting on numerous regional boards and groups.

Hailing from the Netherlands, Jeroen is a director on the Northland Inc board. As well as Northland Chamber of Commerce involvement, he has championed the Hundertwasser Arts Centre project since 2010, is a Tourism Industry Association New Zealand Board member since 2011 and a NZ Tourism Trust trustee since 2012. He was a member of the Northland Conservation Board from 2003 to 2011 and a member of the Northland Tourism Development Group from 2002 to 2014, serving the last four years as the chairman. He was also chairman of the Northland Sustainable Tourism Charter (2004-2007) and a Whangarei district councillor from 2010 to 2013.

Jongejans has received more than 12 awards in recent years, the most recent being the Tourism Industry Champion Award at the Tourism Industry Awards in October 2015.

2014 – Wayne Cowley

Wayne Cowley, of Cowley’s Hire Centre, started his career in the family business by cleaning concrete mixers and caravans and to this day is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in.

The company was started by Wayne’s dad Ted in the early 1950s. Wayne came into the business picture when he was just 13, cleaning concrete mixers and caravans. Wayne and Bev have owned Cowley’s Hire Centre since 1988, after Ted died in 1985.

In 1990, they moved from Manse St to their Commerce St base and now the next generation, Lucretia and Trent (Cowley’s Party Hire manager) are involved in the business. And as well as the Commerce St headquarters, the business has expanded to include depots in Ruakaka, Kamo, Kerikeri, and a party hire depot in Kioreroa Rd, Whangarei.

The Kamo business is moving from Clark Rd to Great North Rd as part of the ongoing changes that have helped make Cowley’s Northland’s number one locally owned hire company. (Source: The Northern Advocate)

2013 – Michael Springford

Michael Springford was a successful businessman, philanthropist, a community champion and sports lover. He owned LJ hooker Whangarei —and under his leadership —they achieved numerous national and international awards. LJ Hooker Whangarei was awarded the top NZ LJ Hooker Office for the last three consecutively years- an outstanding achievement in the competitive real estate market.

Earlier in 2013 they were placed 2nd for total transactions and 4th top office overall, out of the 700 LJ Hooker offices internationally. No one did it better than Michael and his team. Michael also had several other business interests including several directorships.

He was also a person who put hundreds of thousands of dollars back into the community. Sometimes publicly, with a shrewd eye for the potential marketing benefit that sponsorship brings; and sometimes very privately, with a caring eye for the benefactor of his generosity, often a person not as lucky in life as he has been.

Arguably, our inductee is the greatest community champion to enter the Business Hall of Fame. And sadly, he is the first person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, posthumously.

2012 Mike Simm

Mike Simm chairs the board of Competenz the New Zealand Industry Training Organisation for engineering, manufacturing, baking and food and beverage manufacturing industries, the Brightwater Group, a Nelson-based engineering contracting company with strong commitment to youth training and providing opportunities for school-leavers.

An accountant, he worked at Rheem in New Zealand and Aus­tralia and at McConnell Group before becoming executive direc­tor and shareholder of Fullers Bay of Islands in 1989.

After selling Fullers in 2001, the following year he became a professional director and con­tinued to be active in the tourism industry, serving as a director for the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, the New Zealand Tourism Industry Association and as deputy chairman of Jason Travel Media. He has also served on the board of Enterprise North­land.

He is deputy chairman of Far North electricity lines company Top Energy, which was named New Zealand 2012 Lines Com­pany of the Year in August; and a trustee of the Northland Youth Development Trust and of train­ing sailing ship R Tucker Thomp­son. The vessel runs courses to develop confidence, teamwork, new skills and leadership in young people.

The trust has also co­ordinated a number of one-off projects during the years, such as the Northland Enterprising Teachers Conference, The Great Education Property Auckland, and the E4E (education for enter­prise) Awards.

Simm is also a committee member for the Northland branch of the New Zealand Insti­tute of Directors, which works to encourage the appointment of Northlanders to boards rather than people brought in from outside the region, and to im­prove the standard of governance skills in New Zealand business.

2011 Dave Culham

Dave Culham began Culham Engineering in 1958. It was originally a three man business on a labour-only contract to the AFFCO Freezing Works at Moerewa. Today, Culham Engineering is one of the largest fabrication facilities in New Zealand employing around 150 staff (over 200 at its peak). It specialises in the Heavy Engineering and Marine Industry and enjoys an enduring reputation of quality workmanship.

Dave has been the heart and soul of Culham Engineering. He built its reputation through sheer hard work and a commitment to overcoming challenges, of which there have been a few over the years. His catchphrase was ’Illegitimum non carborundum’ (never let them get you down) and the success of Culham Engineering is testatment to this principle.

Culham Engineering has provided stable employment for many tradespeople for over 50 years. In an area of fluctuating employment, the flow on benefits to Northland are significant. Dave’s continued success as a businessman has been recognised through awards and his appointments to various organisations. He is considered a leader in our city and a role model for Northland businesses. (Photo Northern Advocate)

2010 Monty Knight

Monty gained employment firstly in the sign writing business, but quickly became Kaitaia’s first entertainment agent, and opened the first nightclub in town – Sgt Peppers. Monty’s Disc Inn followed, sating the towns appetite for the music of the day, on vinyl of course, and then came Retravision, which is now 100% Monty Knight. Not content with all of this he also dabbled in video hire, and took over the family jewellery business.

1984 saw Monty embark on what many had thought to be a foolhardy and almost impossible venture in planting vines at Okahu estate and becoming a wine producer. However, once again Monty proved his calibre and those sceptics were forced to admit defeat when Okahu’s Kaz Shiraz 1994 won gold and the trophy for other reds at the 1996 Auckland Royal Easter show. Since that success the vineyard has gone onto have great success with countless awards and produces wine from their own estate, and contract grown fruit from around the country.

2009 – Michael Hill

From humble beginnings Michael Hill built one of the most recognised brands in Australasia, and left behind them a trail of success and inspiration. From a single store in Whangarei in 1979 they now boast over 1700 staff and 250 stores across New Zealand and Australia, and more recently, in the USA and Canada.

2008 – Tom McKay

Tom established McKay Electrical in 1936 and this company has operated throughout NZ and the Pacific. He was active in business continuously apart from 4 years war service and did so for over 70 years. Tom was a distinct individual was well known in Northland for his business acumen and community participation. His business provided growth and economic benefit for Dargaville, Whangarei and Northland. Tom passed away in 2010 aged 103 years.


Who is NZME? NZME stands for New Zealand Media and Entertainment, and heralds a complete redesign for the major players in New Zealand’s media industry. With the integration of APN NZ, TRN and GrabOne and the recently acquired events company Peacock Promotions, NZME now connects with over 3 million New Zealanders every month. By combining the power of all of these brands under one banner, NZME has become the preferred news, sports and entertainment destination for Kiwis anywhere, any time and on any device. The ‘me’ in NZME perfectly reflects that our audience is always at the centre of what’s going on. NZME also recognises that New Zealanders need a New Zealand perspective, they need to be connected to the content they want, the way they want it and when they want it; and that’s what NZME will give them. NZME brands reach over 80% of people in Northland across our print, radio and digital platforms.

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