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Entrepreneur and CEO of Kono NZ


Rachel (Ngati Raukawa ki te Tonga, Ngati Rarua) is an award-winning entrepreneur and business woman who has demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainability, and support for the establishment and growth of other people and companies.

Current work
Rachel is CEO of Kono NZ. Kono is a Maori-owned, top 100 New Zealand food and beverage company, farming more than 1000ha of land and sea, and exporting to over 25 countries. Their brands include Tohu, Kono and Aronui wines, Tutu cider, Kono mussels, Kiwa oysters, and Annies fruit bars. Kono also grows apples, pears, kiwifruit and hops, and is involved in sustainable seafood through its business Yellow Brick Road.

Kono is an associated business of Wakatu Incorporation. Based in Nelson, Wakatu has over 4,000 shareholder families who descend from the original Maori land owners of the Nelson, Tasman and Golden Bay regions located within Te Tau Ihu, the top of the South Island.

In 2019, Rachel was appointed to represent New Zealand on the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC). Rachel will also be the ABAC chairperson for New Zealand for APEC in 2021.

Founder of sustainable seafood company Yellow Brick Road, Rachel was formerly NZ Trade Commissioner in Los Angeles. She is a fierce advocate of New Zealand’s primary industry and has spent 20 years promoting Aotearoa as a world-class producer of food and beverages.

Rachel has received the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award and is a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to food and hospitality. In 2018 was named Maori Woman Business Leader at the prestigious University of Auckland Aotearoa Maori Business Leaders Awards, 2019 the recipient a KEA World-class New Zealand award, and she presently sits on the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council.

Her governance experience includes Moana, the Wellington Regional Stadium Trust, New Zealand Wine Growers, Aquaculture New Zealand, NZ Hops, the Young Enterprise Trust, and the Sir Peter Blake Trust.

Rachel is a very engaging speaker - positive feedback from our Managers about her inspiring messages. Worksafe Conference

She is professional, generous and thoughtful with her presentation style.

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