Meet the winners of the New Zealand International Business Awards 2019

New Zealand International Business Awards 2019 winners

07 November 2019

A Canterbury business creating a high-value, top-dollar future for merino wool has won the Supreme Award at the New Zealand International Business Awards 2019, leading a stellar list of category winners.

Based in Christchurch, The New Zealand Merino Company Limited is an integrated sales, marketing and innovation company for merino wool, and the world’s leading supplier of ethical wool through its accreditation brand, ZQ Merino.   

The company aims to help transform merino wool from a commodity into a high-value fibre, working with brands to create unique design-led and R&D-based products that incorporate merino wool, and in turn helping growers to get better returns.

Its partnerships include local and global brands ranging from Icebreaker, Allbirds, Mons Royale, Rodd & Gunn and Untouched World to Hugo Boss, Fjallraven and Helly Hansen. As well as apparel, they have also teamed up for novel products such as US boardmaker Firewire’s Woolight composite surfboard.

The judges were impressed with how the New Zealand Merino Company had worked to help shift the entire local merino industry from volume to value, investing in a design-led approach over multiple years and also helping many of their partner brands and suppliers to adopt design thinking approaches.

The New Zealand Merino Company won the Excellence in Design award earlier in the night, before being chosen from all category winners to receive the Supreme Award. They were also highly commended in the Excellence in Innovation and ANZ Best Large Business categories.

This marks the awards’ second year running with a Canterbury business taking top honours, following a win for geological software business Seequent in 2018.

The New Zealand Merino Company Limited were included in the awards process after winning a Westpac Champion Canterbury Award – one of six regional export award programmes that feed through to the New Zealand International Business Awards via a partnership with ExportNZ.

Thirty-nine of New Zealand’s top export companies and business leaders made it through to the final stage of the awards, a record number. This followed a nine-month application and judging process. They came from around New Zealand and represented an array of sectors demonstrating the nation’s business diversity and innovation.

David Downs, convenor of judges for the awards, said: “With the high quality of entrants, every year one of the hardest tasks we have is selecting finalists, and it can be incredibly hard to pull one winner out from such a strong field.

“The results these businesses are getting with their international growth, and the stories we heard of how Kiwis are winning on the world stage, were fascinating and inspiring.”

This year’s awards were the second to feature a category for Inspiring Women Leaders. Five outstanding businesswomen were nominated for this award, with judges selecting two joint winners from an exceptional shortlist of finalists. The joint winners were Angie Judge and Helen Robinson.

More than 400 people attended the black-tie awards dinner in Auckland on Thursday, 7 November.

Now in their 52nd year, the New Zealand International Business Awards are run by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and supported by Strategic Partner, ANZ New Zealand Limited. They celebrate the success of New Zealand businesses on the world stage and recognise excellence and innovative practice.

See below for the full list of winners.

Supreme Award for International Business:

The New Zealand Merino Company Limited

He kai kei aku ringa for Māori Excellence in Export:


Inspiring Women Leaders:

Angie Judge, Dexibit

Helen Robinson, Organic Initiative (Oi)

Best Emerging Business:


Highly commended: Method Recycling, Organic Initiative

Best Medium Business:

Doyle Sails New Zealand Limited

Highly commended: Natural Pet Food Group, Tuapeka Gold Print Limited

ANZ Best Large Business:

Douglas Pharmaceuticals

Excellence in Innovation:

Bluelab Corporation Limited

Highly commended: Dexibit, The New Zealand Merino Company Limited

Excellence in Design:

The New Zealand Merino Company Limited

Inspiring Preference for New Zealand:


Highly commended: Ao Skincare

Learn more about the awards at