Lakes Business - June 24 edition

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Issue 35
June 2024 Women in business
Aimee McCammon CEO - Pic’s Peanut Butter
‘Walk tall, stand strong’

Just like that – another year has ashed by and we’re getting excited to meet some incredible female leaders from around the country to inspire us at this year’s Westpac Women’s conference on Friday, 14 June.

is event, now in its 12th year, sold out quickly yet again which goes to show the value we all see in taking time out to listen, learn and be energised from others who are walking the walk.

While this event is a highlight on our events calendar (note: always get your tickets early!), there is inspiration daily in the Queenstown Lakes and I feel very lucky in this role to meet, and work alongside, many inspirational local leaders who are making a huge contribution to our community.

You will see from this Women in Business issue that there is no shortage of daily inspiration.

Huge respect to all the local organisations and people featured. is year’s conference theme is ‘Walk Tall, Stand Strong’ and we have some remarkable speakers with diverse experience and backgrounds joining us. Aimee McCammon - Pic’s peanut butter CEO, Kelsey Waghorn - White Island eruption survivor, Paula Bennet - political and property icon, Natalie and Kristen from Powrsuit, Venice Qin - musician, Kelly Evans – Sports agent and Robyn Malcolm – the one and only. I really can’t wait. anks to our supportive and long-standing partners Westpac, Lane Neave, Deloitte, Air New Zealand and now Gibbston Valley, the event keeps on getting bigger and better.

Hope to see many of you soon at a Chamber event, whether that’s for networking, professional development or just to catch up on how business is going. If there is any way we can support your success and growth in business, please get in touch. Finishing on one of the team’s favourite quotes (from Serena Williams) that we were reminded of at a recent Chamber event but seems so tting here;

“ e success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: Be strong, be extremely kind and above all, be humble.”

Ngā manaakitanga,



Rachel Tregidga and Jo Learmont -

Lara Mathews

Celia Crosbie

Mel Tweedie, Christine Law, Louise McQuillan and Molly Munro - NZSki

June 2024 | Issue 35
Powrsuit 03
Pic’s Peanut Butter 04
EVS Vehicle Management 05
and Kristen Lunman’s -
Emma Middleton -
Spillane - Highlands, Hampton and Taupo Motor Sport Park
Airport 07
- Edgewater 08
- Scope Communications 09
Pullar - Roost Mortgage Brokers 11
Hill - Wake Up
Make Up 12 Vivien Hitchins - Curious Minds | Gems Childcare 13 Clare Arrowsmith - Remarkables | Jack’s Point Pharmacy 14 Lisa Leftley - Pivotal Point Charitable Trust 15 Donna Harris - Bayleys Real Estate 16 Alexandra Jannetto - The Visa Shop Immigration Lawyers 17 Carla De Nijs - TRU Women’s Gym 18
Till, Rebeca Barnes and Alison MairCustom Mortgages 19
Content list

Empowering women to lead

Natalie Ferguson and Kristen Lunman’s rst mission was to put investing at everyone’s nger tips. eir second is to empower women to change business culture from the inside out, equipping them with the tools and network necessary to redesign the world of work on their terms.

e business partners co-founded investment platform Hatch in 2017. ey exited when it was acquired in 2021 and their latest venture is Powrsuit, a membership platform for women leaders.

“We call it the Trojan horse approach, “ Ferguson says. “One of the biggest problems women face in e ecting change is that they’ll go on a course, come back with the knowledge and inspiration needed, but then slot back into the same old environment that they couldn’t succeed in before.

“With Powrsuit, the idea is for women to focus on themselves and what they want to achieve as a leader,

and to create a network. Once we get that en masse in organisations, with male allies, all speaking the same language, subscribing to the same philosophy, backing each other up, we can subtly change the culture from the inside.”

Ferguson says at Hatch they learned very quickly that while people were very excited to take control of their nances and investing, the majority of those people were men.

“ ere was a massive gender wealth gap and gender nancial literary gap,” she says. at led them to dig into those deeply routed myths and behaviours around money.

“ ere’s all sorts of really crazy stu around nancial exclusion. Women weren’t even allowed credit cards until the 1980s. So at Hatch we got really good at taking someone from being completely disengaged with their nances to being con dent and capable.”

e duo planned to stay in nance and began researching opening a fund that only invested in companies that were led by women.

“We did that for two reasons. One is that womenled companies tend to outperform nancially and, secondly, women tend to get more interested in investing when there’s a purpose.”

But they found there were fewer than 200 companies in all the share markets in the word that met the criteria for investment - being publicly listed, large enough to have nancial stability, led by women and with a diverse board.

“We realised the problem we needed to solve was the gender leadership gap.”

It was, in some ways, the perfect time to launch. Covid, technology and the push for diversity have planted two seeds for massive transformation.

“We’ve moved from a world where it’s bums on seats to remote hybrid work and we are speeding towards more change with AI and automation, not to mention climate change.

“So the leadership style that we’ve seen so dominant in our social norms won’t get us where we need to go. We actually need diverse leadership teams. Companies are really starting to pay attention, and Governments are mandating it, because all the evidence supports that diverse leadership teams outperform on virtually every business measure.”

Powrsuit o ers fortnightly mini-masterclasses with deep-dives into leadership skills and challenges, with post session breakouts. Members are matched with a group of women leaders and peers, enabling them to form a network and navigate challenges together.

It also features online events, interviews with experts, coaching, casual catchups, in-person meetups, mindset tools, and a library of masterclasses and interviews.

More than 350 members have already signed up since launch on International Women’s Day in March, while their podcast and newsletter has a global audience of more than 7000. Foundation partners include Xero and Contact Energy.

Ferguson and Lunman aim to grow Powrsuit into a billion-dollar company.

“We want women to be recognised as an economic superpower. We are 50% of the population. We’re building this fabulous community, an incredibly engaged group, and we’ve a really strong culture around openness, vulnerability and honesty. It feels like something magic is forming.”

Powrsuit will be at this month’s Westpac Women in Business Conference in Queenstown, organised by Queenstown Business Chamber of Commerce.


Joy in a jar

Pic’s Peanut Butter CEO Aimee McCammon knows the power of a feel-good business with a great product and an authentic origin story.

McCammon is one of the speakers at the annual Westpac Women in Business Conference this month, organised by the Queenstown Business Chamber of Commerce. A er a 20-year career as a strategist working with some of the world’s heavyweight brands, and a decade on Pic’s advisory board, she took the reins about 18 months ago, becoming the company’s rst female CEO.

It’s her family’s business. McCammon is step daughter of founder Bruce ‘Pic’ Picot, who created the product and the company in one of those classic Kiwi entrepreneur stories. In 2007, semi-retired a er selling a sailing business and laundromat, and with failing eyesight, Pic decided to make some jars of peanut butter the way his mum and aunty used to make it; simply roasting peanuts and squashing them. Back then, commercial peanut butters were chocked full of sugar, emulsi ers and other nasties.

When one of his son Louis’ friends o ered him $5 for a jar, he gured there might be a market so spent $10,000 on stock and machinery, including a stainlesssteel concrete mixer, a grinder, a laser printer for labelling and half a tonne of peanuts. His goal was to make 50 jars a week and sell them at the local market. By 2009, you could buy Pic’s in supermarkets across New Zealand and it has grown to become the country’s best selling peanut butter brand, on the Deloitte’s Fast 50 every year from 2015 to 2019, employing 50 people and exporting to Australia, the UK, the US, China and Singapore, from its Nelson factory.

“Kiwis love an underdog, David verses Goliath, the little guy takes on the world and becomes a success,”

McCammon says. “It’s the same with TradeMe, a couple of guys in a room with a computer become bigger than the newspaper classi eds industry.

“Dad rigged up a concrete mixer in his garage and now we’re the number one selling brand in New Zealand. We’re proud of the company’s origins and we have a lot of people still working here from the early days, when we were really small, so you still get that vibe, that feeling it’s a special place to work.”

Don’t ask for permission

McCammon cut her teeth with Mojo and then Saatchi & Saatchi, before going on to work with brands including Whittaker’s, Toyota, Lotto, 42 Below and Tourism NZ, while holding senior roles at Augusto Group, Assignment Group, Sir Peter Jackson’s Park Road Post Production and Trade Me.

And the di erences between a start up company and some of the world’s biggest brands and agencies isn’t as pronounced as you might think.

“Saatchi & Saatchi is a massive global company but the training there is really good. ey don’t train you to think corporate, they train you to get the job done. We had ve golden rules and the rst is ‘nothing is impossible’.

“ ey gave you permission to do whatever you needed to do. When I worked in New York, they said to us ‘it’s better to ask for forgiveness, than permission’, which is the sort of entrepreneurial spirit Pic has got. And it was a great place to work because you got exposure to really good businesses and their practices. I got to work with Procter and Gamble, for instance, who basically wrote the marketing textbooks.” Pic’s is not the rst owner operator company McCammon has worked in.

“A er I le Saatchi, I then went to work with owner operators, including Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh at Park Road Post Production. It’s a di erent dynamic because you have two incredibly talented but quite quirky owners. I also worked with Partridge Jewellers, a fourth generation company, and Grant Partridge is another very unique character, and in agency land worked with Whittaker’s another multigenerational company.

“I think I got the best of both worlds. Even though Saatchi is a big corporate environment, they had a good independent spirit. en in family owned companies, you really get to take advantage of that, making faster decisions, which I love because I like to move quite quickly. I’ve worked with a cast of characters who could ll a circus. And I love the randomness. You can be on a path, going well, and someone comes in with such a wildcard. at’s what actually makes it exciting.”

e main ingredient

McCammon says the one word that links it all is ‘enthusiasm’.

“In advertising you meet all di erent types of people and have to win them over with your enthusiasm, because you’re selling ideas too them.

“And the most important thing about Pic is his enthusiasm. He knows how to make a business work, he’s pretty savvy, but he also just really gets excited about peanut butter, and gets other people excited by it. at’s how he got into the supermarkets.”

It’s something that runs through the company, probably through most successful companies, through owners, management, the workforce and customers.

“We built this new factory and it has become one of the leading tourist attractions in Nelson. We run three

June 2024 | Issue 35 LAKES BUSINESS
Aimee and Pic


tours a day, with 40 people on them, and they are booked out. We tell the story, how it all started, have tastings and let them loose in the store and cafe.

“I’d had a factory tour from dad but my rst week on the job, I went on the consumer tour. People get so excited, they’re just zzing, and honestly, it just made me really excited too.

“When I came o that tour and did my rst sta meeting, I reminded everyone that if they’re having a tricky day, and there are always tricky days with problems to solve, to book themselves on one of the tours and you will get excited again about what we do.”

Work and life mentors

McCammon has been taught the independent spirit from an early age. Her rst job, aged 12, was working for Pic, packing cannabis fertilizer into bottles.

“It sounds illegal but I promise you it wasn’t. It was the most pungent, lthy smelling horrible brown liquid, made of seaweed. I was taking it out of these big oil drums in an old concrete factory and putting it into bottles with a spray gun, for $5 a hour.”

She also credits her mum with giving her the psychological tools needed.

“I think one of the smartest things my mum did was teaching me to have agency over my own life, teaching me that I should make the decisions. Even though my mother is very strong, very feminist, quite bossy, that was the upbringing I had. She gave me and my sister the room to make our own decisions and we’ve both gone on to have quite strong careers.

“From an early age, we were making decisions, and so we needed to be con dent about backing our decisions.”

McCammon has also had strong female mentors in her professional life. “At Mojo Partners we had a very strong female leadership, so early on in my career I saw a company being run mostly by women.

“ e MD there was an incredible woman, Sandy Burgham, ercely intelligent, really high energy and full of ideas. She mentored me for a while and I’m still in touch with her today. I was probably 25 and she was 35/40, and would have been one of the only female managing directors in the country at that time, and I was working with her. She was a fantastic in uence and it didn’t seem odd to me at all that a woman would run a company.”

What’s next?

Looking to the future, for the company, McCammon says the goal is to continue to be a brand that people get excited about.

“Being a brand that feels part of the fabric of being Kiwi, that’s such an honour. We’re trying to grow peanuts in Northland right now. We spend close to $10 million a year buying peanuts from overseas, and one of Pic’s thoughts a few years ago was ‘ah, why do we send $10m overseas? Surely we could grow peanuts somewhere in NZ’. So we’re trialling that at the moment, which is very interesting because I’ve never worked with the agricultural sector before.”

As a woman in business, the goal is to pave the way for the next generation.

“It’s still a tougher road for women, there are still barriers, and the most important thing it to have visible female leadership. I look at what my mum did and those amazing feminists in the 70s. ey were vocal, they protested, burned their bras and brought their daughters up to be stroppy. And the generation before them, our grandmothers, who went to work during the Second World War. ey broke barriers.

“So now, we’re modelling behaviour and breaking barriers for our daughters. My daughter got made head girl this year and I was so proud because she’s grown up with a female Prime Minister and a mum who had been a CEO while she was young, and now she’s taking on that leadership mantel.

“I keep saying she should be Prime Minister but she doesn’t want to be, because it can be a pretty awful job, but I think you have to exercise your responsibility of leadership for other people, because being a leader is just all about service.”

e 12th Annual Westpac Women in Business Conference takes place on Friday, 14 June, with the theme of Walk Tall, Stand Strong.

Paula Bennett will MC. Speakers are Aimee McCammon, Kelsey Waghorn, Natalie Ferguson and Kristen Lunman from Powrsuit, Venice Qin and Kelly Evans. Tickets are sold out.

Bringing something new to Queenstown after identifying a gap in the market

EVS Vehicle Management is a service company managing vehicles for busy individuals, business owners and out of town holiday homeowners. EVS Vehicle Management services include year-round bookkeeping, delivery of vehicles for all services and airport delivery and pick up of customers vehicles. Emma Middleton is the founder of the business. She grew up in a family of business owners, and from a young age developed a keen interest on the inner workings of successful companies. With a passion for vehicles and the automotive industry, she pursued her entrepreneurial dreams by co-founding a successful auto electrical and mechanic business in Rotorua that specialised in performance cars at the age of 22. Following the sale of her shares within that business and having gained valuable experience in the automotive industry, she had also honed her skills in business management, customer service, and technical know-how.

Middleton had learned the ins and outs of running a successful business developing a keen eye for identifying opportunities for growth and expansion. Fast forward a few years, and she decided to take on a new challenge as well as a change in lifestyle. Her background in business ownership along with a passion for the automotive industry came together with the establishment of EVS Vehicle Management in 2023.

Middleton made the move from Rotorua to Queenstown a er doing 8 months of market research, discovering a bespoke gap in the market with EVS Vehicle Management. e business is committed to providing top quality vehicle management services to make certain her clients receive the best possible experience and services in Queenstown, while ensuring their personal vehicles and business commercial eets are in the best possible condition, while taking the hassle out of the process.

June 2024 | Issue 35 SOUTHERN
022 046 1294 |

Josie Spillane – A tsunami of enthusiasm

When Josie Spillane gets behind a project her infectious enthusiasm can’t help but sweep up all in her path, whether that’s fundraising for seriously ill kids or getting Kiwis enthralled in motorsport. It’s a trait one of her career mentors, local fundraising specialist Kaye Parker instilled in her.

Spillane currently leads a team of 101 people as CEO for Tony Quinn’s racetracks in New Zealand. Based at Highlands in Cromwell, Spillane applies all of those business skills and techniques she learnt from Parker. “Kaye is incredible. She pushed me hard teaching me how to lead with empathy and build relationships and take people on a journey,” Spillane says. “If I know how to wrap people up in a tsunami of enthusiasm then I’ve learnt that from Kaye.”

Her skill as a business leader was recognised in 2022 when Spillane won Leader of the Year and Excellence in Leadership awards at e Grand Business South Awards in Dunedin.

She’s always grabbed opportunities that have presented themselves, worked hard gaining business acumen along the way.

Spillane didn’t complete a Tourism and Travel Diploma, instead studying for a Bachelor of Commerce at Otago University, and working in a restaurant to support her studies. Her talent was spotted by the manager of KC’s, her favourite student nightclub. “He o ered me a fulltime promotion manager’s job, while I studied.” With a $58,000 student loan and a $10,000 personal loan requiring attention, a job as restaurant supervisor at the Heritage Queenstown beckoned, working functions for GM Damien Keenan. “My career has evolved because of what people like Damien have seen in me,” Spillane says. She’d hoped to score the front-

of-house duty manager’s role and ideally build to general manager. “I’m quite assertive and I like being in charge, so I thought that would be me,” she grins. at didn’t transpire and instead, her career turned to real estate and Harcourts working for Kelvin Collins, Tony Robins and John Petre. “I felt like I was doing so much work, and the agents were earning all the money.”

Keenan recognised her talent for events, recommending her to Event Management Company ESP. Her rst job was the Michael Hill Violin Competition, then Mountain Film Festival. ESP won the contract for the 50K of Coronet Peak, organising fundraising for the Child Health Research Foundation which became Cure Kids, with Spillane as event coordinator. at’s when I met Kay Parker, an event that set me on a path that changed my life.”

A er being made redundant at 25 from ESP, an approach from the organisers to manage 50K of Coronet opened the door to working for Cure Kids under Parker – a role she revelled in for the next 11 years. She became Cure Kids South Island fundraising coordinator and by the time she le in 2013 she was leading a team in Auckland, from Cromwell, that was fundraising $4 million a year.

“I went to the opening of Highlands Motorsport Park in March 2013, and sitting on the bank with my husband and said, ‘I can’t believe I’m not part of this. I didn’t really know what the cars were doing on the track, but this was right in my backyard.” She was looking to leave Cure Kids and it seemed like something amazing to be part of.

e initial response drew a rm ‘no’, and then veteran racer Grant Aitken called Spillane in to meet

Australian founder, Tony Quinn. “I le with a job as his business development manager selling signage and developing the GT membership.”

It’s been incredible working with and building a team of “amazing, passionate people”.

Since then, Quinn bought Hampton Downs in the Waikato, which is now a worldclass motorsport park and more recently the Taupo Motorsport Park. Quinn also brought back Race To e Sky in 2016, a “huge learning curve” for Spillane, who’s responsible for the businesses and teams nationwide.

Her greatest management advice is to keep things really simple. “Play to people’s strengths, avoid layers of bureaucracy, and hours making decisions. We touch it once and make it happen.”

An example of the speed with which they deliver o the track too is the recent announcement of the Tony Quinn Foundation’s funding support for Street Smart – a hands on driver programme for youth. is was triggered by the devastating loss of young Cromwell driver Kelan Stroud. Spillane was tasked with making the programme happen. “We’re funding $750,000 over the next three years to change the needle on NZ road deaths.” ey’ll be lobbying the Government for a law change to make it compulsory for young drivers to do hands-on practical training.

Who better to make that change happen?

June 2024 | Issue 35 LAKES BUSINESS
Rachel Lister, Chontelle Brown, Rachel Rayner, Margie Dela Cruz Simmons, Josie Spillane, Heather Lindsay, Hannah Wybrow, Holly Parkes, Elizabeth Carrillo and Tamara Trent.

Queenstown Airport has a Master Plan, but what next?

One of Queenstown Airport’s key pieces of work in 2023 was the completion of its Master Plan. e document will guide considerable investment in infrastructure at the airport over the coming decade, while enabling and supporting lower-emission aviation.

No one was more satis ed to see the plan nished than the woman who led its development – General Manager Property Planning Rachel Tregidga.

“It was quite a journey, but I’m really proud of the result and the con dence it gives us to move ahead.”

Rachel joined the Queenstown Airport team in 2015, bringing a wealth of experience in property and planning to her role.

At that time, tourism in this region was booming, demand for air travel was strong, and it was evident long-term planning was needed. A dra Master Plan that proposed expanding the airport’s noise boundaries to enable increased capacity was put to the community and rmly rejected.

“We listened and didn’t proceed any further with the proposal,” Rachel says.

en the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and no-one could y in or out of Queenstown for months.

“ at made it crystal-clear what an essential role Queenstown Airport plays in connecting the communities of the Southern Lakes region with the rest of the world, and in supporting our social and economic wellbeing.”

When travel resumed, Queenstown Airport – headed by a new chief executive, Glen Sowry – took a fresh look at long-term planning for the airport. A 10-year Strategic Plan established a vision to be an innovative airport that people love to travel through, and that the community takes pride in.

With that aspiration in mind, Rachel directed the development of a Master Plan that prioritises improvements to safety, operational e ciency, sustainability, resilience, and customer experience, while enabling modest, incremental growth in passenger numbers. It also protects space to enable and support the decarbonisation of aviation as new technologies, such as electric and hydrogen aircra , emerge.

e Master Plan is not merely a guide for infrastructure development; it is an exercise in balancing progress with protecting what makes Queenstown Airport unique. It must meet the needs of this region’s communities, as well as a wide range of airport users and other stakeholders, far into the future.

Rachel relished the complexity of the task.

“What I really enjoy is that long-term thinking, working through a whole series of challenges, and balancing competing needs.”

She is con dent the plan is appropriate, achievable and a ordable, and looks forward to seeing it come to life.

It is now in the hands of Queenstown Airport’s Head of Infrastructure Delivery, Jo Learmonth, who is leading a substantial programme of work to test the assumptions behind the Master Plan and to create detailed development plans for the air eld, the terminal, the landside spaces around the terminal, and services and utilities.

International consulting rm Aurecon has been commissioned to help deliver those plans, which is expected to take about six months.

“ ese development plans are the link between the vision we have for the airport and the delivery of new infrastructure,” Jo says.

e next step a er that is building investment cases for the various projects and establishing the staging of the capital works.

“We are preparing for the biggest decade of infrastructure delivery the airport has ever undertaken, and we need to ensure everything is the right size and scale,” Jo says.

“It’s going to take input from a lot people, including the users of the airport. ere will be plenty of opportunity for stakeholder input and consultation.”

Meanwhile, people should get used to seeing workers in high-vis wandering around the airport, pointing at things, as they start to bring the Master Plan to life.

Rachel Tregidga led the development of Queenstown Airport’s Master Plan Jo Learmonth is responsible for Queenstown Airport’s development planning and infrastructure delivery
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Five Minutes with Lara Mathews

II am the Marketing Manager at Edgewater, Lake Wānaka. I have been asked to share my story and with it I hope to inspire other women working towards their goals.

My journey

I grew up in small town Waihi, raised by a single mother. I always had dreams of moving overseas and into a powerful, important job. Inspired by 80’s power suits and New York I was extremely determined and self-motivated to be at my best. I knew that knowledge and hard work would lead me to my dream career and where I wanted to go so, I studied hard and persevered. I went to A.U.T completing a degree in design.

Once I graduated, NZ was in the nancial crisis with no jobs, so I made the move, like many Kiwis at that time, to Australia. I spent seven years in Perth in marketing for a cooperative buying group that operated across AU, NZ, and South Africa. I started as a temp which grew into a full-time role. en it was onto Vancouver for the next two years as a marketing specialist in the digital experience team of a top online brokerage rm. is was a $60 billion company and I was working under Catherine Wood. Catherine was in the top 100 most powerful women in Canada. Once I had reached my goals I returned to NZ with my partner (who I meet in Perth) and started at Edgewater in Wānaka. Initially as a part time social media specialist but grew the role into full time marketing manager with my skills and experience. While at Edgewater I’ve completed the Wānaka Leadership Academy and started a Culture Committee that recognises and rewards sta achievements. On a personal level we have just welcomed our rst baby into the world and bought our rst home in Alexandra. A huge achievement for us to do on our own.


Edgewater has always supported its people to grow their careers and is heavily involved in the local community. My work is inspiring and creative with menu and brand launches, photoshoots, weddings, and social media. But the best thing is the people, they are so kind and caring. e team is a real family.

My advice

Do what you love. Keep going, persevere and don’t give up. It will happen! Keep an open mind to opportunity. I started my roles as a temp, or part time which grew into the roles I wanted based on my potential. I am also a strong believer in balance, I have seen many powerful women burnout.Take time for yourself and your family.

You can achieve your goals even from a small town and humble beginnings. It’s so important to support and encourage others.

June 2024 | Issue 35
Photo credit: Irene Maton Photography

Innovating and evolving in a changing business environment

In April, the Wānaka-based PR communications consultancy formerly known as Scope Media rebranded as Scope Communications.

On the face of it, a simple word change doesn’t seem that signi cant when it comes to company rebrands.

But there’s a sense of irony in the timing, with our news coming a few weeks a er announcements of job losses within major broadcast media.

As a former news journalist, watching the collapse of parts of New Zealand’s news media has been upsetting and confronting.

And, in my present role as a communications professional, the continued disruption to an industry I’ve worked in for more than 20 years has got me thinking about the future of our media ecosystem: What will news reporting and journalism look like in the future? How will brands, individuals and organisations tell their story if there are limited media options available? And will our younger generations even care about the news?

In actual fact, the move to replace the word ‘Media’ with ‘Communications’ in the brand name has been two years in the making.

When I set up Scope in 2013, ‘Media’ seemed the right word at the time I was exiting journalism. My goal then was to do PR di erently, and create stories that appealed to media by providing them a ‘story on a plate’ while newsrooms were shrinking and resources were stretched. We continue to do this 11 years later.

Considering a rebrand as a team, we felt that ‘communications’ better re ects what we do, as the lines between PR and journalism continue to blur. While our roots are proudly entrenched in journalism, our collective skillset spans all methods of communication – including digital PR, marketing communications, stakeholder relations, crisis communications, issues & reputation management, media relations and paid digital advertising.

e power of media and communication now exists within a range of integrated channels and it’s more important than ever to specialise in all. e bottom line for us is, as long as we’re creating lasting relationships between a brand and its audiences – whether that’s online, in a magazine or in person – we’re doing our job as opportunity-makers.

In May, Scope Communications won a Silver Award for the Best Small-to-Medium PR Consultancy of the Year category at the annual Public Relations Institute of New Zealand Awards. Our award was granted in recognition of how we continuously look to innovate within our industry.

For us, innovation comes from a place of constantly wanting to do better, and be better.

Sure, it’s o en a response to a changing marketplace –whether there’s disruption to the industry you operate in, or an economic downturn, or a change in market share.

But we’ve always looked to challenge the status quo: How can we deliver an even better service, or achieve an even better result for our clients? How can we meet the media’s needs while meeting the individual needs of the brands we represent?

In an evolving media landscape, it takes an innovative approach to ensure your stories will interest news outlets and journalists. As traditional media options shrink, it’s essential to reimagine how stories are told and distributed and embrace new platforms and methods.

Scope Communications has tackled these challenges by enhancing the way we create media releases to give them long-term value across multiple channels. We have also productised several of our services related to innovative storytelling and story discovery because we recognise this is an area where brands need help these days. By continually questioning how we can improve our services and results, we aim to meet both media demands and the unique needs of the brands we represent.

And sometimes, the answer includes a name change. Here are my top tips for navigating a changing marketplace through innovation:

• Look for trends and patterns to help you pick your next move

Ask yourself why something is happening. What’s going on in the wider context that’s causing change or disruption? Do you have a solution to a problem that you keep noticing? What’s happening in an adjacent industry or market that you can look to adopt similar solutions?

• Ask your people

Sometimes asking questions feels uncomfortable. But it’s important to know how your clients and customers feel about your product/service – assumptions will only get you so far. Ask your customers or clients for feedback on how you can improve your product/ service, or make their lives easier in general. And don’t forget to include your teams in the process of seeking the answers – sometimes the eureka moment comes from within.

• Seek out a better way to do things

We like to re ect on the past to help us navigate our way forward. Undertaking project retrospectives is a helpful way to critique what went well and what could be improved upon. Sometimes a small adjustment can have a big impact. Are there aspects of your service delivery that could do with a review?

• Embrace change

e old adage, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t x it’ shouldn’t always apply. In the case of the media ecosystem, we’re constantly reviewing our strategies for media outreach. Keeping our eyes open for anything that inspires us is also a good catalyst for change. Changes can be big or small – but generally they open up new opportunities for growth and development.

• Don’t give up – you’ll crack the code eventually

We’ve invested a lot in trying new ways of doing things. Sometimes they don’t work, sometimes they do – and sometimes the timing isn’t quite right. Learn from your mistakes and keep trying and testing. When you get there, you’ll know. But don’t stop there – keep going and always look to improve more.

• Celia Crosbie (Kai Tahu) is also the Wānaka Business Chamber vice chair and board member of Te Kupeka Umaka Māori ki Araiteuru (KUMA).

Scope Communications managing director Celia Crosbie explains the reasons behind the PR consultancy’s name change, and shares her tips on how to innovate in a changing business environment.


Women of the mountains

NZSki, the country’s largest ski area operator, employs a diverse workforce across their three mountains: Coronet Peak, e Remarkables, and Mt Hutt Ski Areas. Women head many of the departments in the company and are spearheading a range of exciting initiatives and campaigns – here’s the story of just a few.

General Manager Sales & Marketing

is year will mark Mel Tweedie’s tenth season with NZSki, and she still loves it as much as her rst. e General Manager of Sales & Marketing started out as the Marketing Communications Manager in 2015 before getting promoted to her current role when she was on maternity leave in 2022.

One of the highlights of the role for her is marketing something she’s really passionate about.

“I love that we get to connect people with our beautiful mountains and help create a lifelong passion for so many skiers and riders. e mountains are such a special place and I feel very privileged to be able to work in them,” Tweedie says.

At the moment she’s most proud of the team’s recent launch of three new brand campaigns – one for each of the mountains.

“Each mountain brand is so unique and distinct with its own vibe and stories to be told. e work we are doing in this space is critical to build demand from both current and future audiences.”

Christine Law

Assistant Ski Area Manager at Coronet Peak

For the past ve years Fiona Boyer has had a laser focus on how customer experience is delivered across the three mountains and at the Snow Centre. Growing up in Queenstown she spent 22 back-toback winters as a young alpine ski racer, instructor and trainer before moving to the North Island and having a family.

“It’s been great to come full circle and end up back at home in Queenstown, in the snowsports industry,” Boyer says.

Boyer echoes her colleagues sentiments – loving the combination of professional experience and an adoration of the mountains. is year her team are introducing self-service pass pickup kiosks.

“Say goodbye to queues and embrace digital transformation. e shi to online purchasing globally has been signi cant, and for the ski industry it means guests can now purchase and book online and pickup their MyPass cards at any of our locations without needing to stand in lines – the future in our guest experience environment is exciting.”

Originally hailing from Canada, Christine Law cut her teeth in the industry working for Whistler Blackcomb. Starting at NZSki in 2015, she worked in various roles before stepping into Assistant Ski Area Manager at Coronet Peak. One of her favourite parts of the job is seeing familiar faces coming back each year.

“ e connections you make on the mountain last a lifetime,” Law says. “I’ve stopped saying goodbye to people, and I barely go to leaving parties anymore because I always end up seeing people somewhere down the track. People that love the snowsports industry spin within the same orbit and you’ll always nd someone you know on the snow.”

is year, she’s been championing the Snow Centre Rentals project, giving guests the opportunity to set-up the night before, resulting in less time lining up in the morning. “We’re opening a brand-new agship location in town that’s going to give our guests the ability to pick up rental gear the night before they plan on skiing. is means those with ski/snowboard lessons only need to worry about their co ee orders and sunscreen.”

Louise McQuillan

General Manager Technical Operations

Louise McQuillan has been working with NZSki since 2017 and looks a er the technical operations. Her responsibilities are split across many areas including infrastructure, transport, asset planning, major project delivery, and leading health, safety and wellbeing strategies. “ e best part about working in my role is that I’m able to combine my passion of skiing with my professional ambitions in such a beautiful part of the country,” McQuillan says. She’s also project managing the new Shadow Basin Express project and has spent much of this summer at e Remarkables overseeing progress.

“I’m excited about how this new high-speed chairli will change how people ski the Remarkables, by opening up over 47 hectares of new li -accessed terrain. I’m proud of how the team has pulled together over our summer period – as anyone who has been involved in construction knows, you will always have unexpected challenges along the way, but we’ve had a really collaborative team.”

General Manager of Food & Beverage

A er nine years at Mt Hutt in the food and beverage department, Molly Munro relocated in 2022 to Queenstown for a new management position. Now in her 12th season, Munro overseas food and beverage operations across all three mountains, with a particular focus on sustainability. Munro says she works with many hard-working and incredibly intelligent women in leadership roles at the company. “ ese women go above and beyond to get the job done and provide unwavering support to their teams, it’s incredibly inspiring,” Munro says.

One of the projects that Munro continues to spearhead is waste reduction in the department.

“One of our key projects this year is to divert as much waste from land- ll as possible. We’re introducing sorting stations to reduce the number of customer facing bins. Our team will assist customers with their trays and waste while ensuring that recycling and compost streams remain uncontaminated, diverting as much waste as possible from land ll.”

June 2024 | Issue 35

The Women who ‘Rule the Roost’

In the traditionally male-dominated mortgage broking industry, Roost Mortgage Brokers in Arrowtown stands out with a talented team of women leading the charge. Co-owner and operations manager Emma Pullar takes pride in the dynamic her female colleagues bring to the business.

Girl power has been producing some amazing results at Roost, where the number of female sta has just kept on growing.

“It’s been lovely to have more females in the business,” she says. “ ey certainly so en the edges and have enriched our company culture. We’re de nitely not a bunch of old men in suits.”

Leading the pack is Rebecca Viale, working alongside Emma’s husband and Roost founder Mark Pullar, Toby Stanley and abit Ayoub, as Roost’s ‘newly minted’ mortgage advisor. Rebecca joined the team as a loans manager in 2021 fresh from the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce with no prior industry experience and has recently stepped into her new role as an adviser. She is already earning rave reviews

e Journey to Success

Roost Mortgage Brokers was founded in 2007 by Mark, who le his physiotherapy career to launch the business from their family garage at Gibbston Valley. It was a bold move, with no prior experience in mortgage broking, a toddler, and Emma pregnant with their second child. However, he was encouraged by Emma who had great faith in his negotiating skills. e timing was challenging, as the Global Financial Crisis hit the following year, but Mark’s passion, reputation, and word-of-mouth referrals quickly fueled business growth. Nick was the rst, now the longestserving, employee, and in 2015, Mark convinced Toby Stanley, a local Westpac private banker, to join him as a business partner, propelling the company’s expansion. Since then, Roost has won numerous accolades, including NZ Adviser’s Best Brokerage and Best Broker awards for Mark in 2021, and the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce Small to Medium Business

from her clients for her ability to listen, multi-task, and stay organised, particularly from rst-home buyers navigating the emotional rollercoaster of the home-buying process.

“My clients enjoy the space to talk,” Rebecca says, highlighting the importance of understanding clients’ perspectives and earning their trust.

Natalie Powley, a former senior banking specialist with SBS who won top lender for the country in 2018, now heads Roost’s loans team (AKA - the brains of the business), working alongside Simone Wiggan, Zsuzsi Toth and sole male in the team, Emma’s brother Nick Lynch. Rachel Dowthwaite leads client support, collaborating with Jade Edgar to take great care of Roost’s clients and keep all the wheels turning, while Kelly Hopkins works alongside the directors and serves as the compliance o cer and projects manager.

“We’ve invested heavily in skilled support sta , who are all playing a crucial role in the business,” Emma says.

of the Year Award in 2016. Last month, the rm was named one of the top 25 mortgage brokerages in New Zealand.

It’s not only the sta who have turned heads on the awards podium, but also the company’s new purposebuilt stone building in Arrowtown which recently won the local architect a national architecture award.

Navigating Challenges and Looking Ahead

Despite recent regulatory changes, rising interest rates, and in ationary pressures, Mark remains optimistic about helping clients achieve their homeownership dreams. “ ere absolutely is hope and there are options that the banks will consider to help get people through,” he assures. “Many homeowners have gained a lot of equity in their homes here in recent years so they may even want to opt to pay interest only for a while and look a er the kids.”

Hopefully there will be ‘green shoots’ appearing if in ation keeps coming down and policy changes are planned by the government that will make it less onerous to achieve a home loan approval, he says. Whatever t is best for individual Roost clients, he assures they have an amazing team at the ready to help navigate clients through that process.

As the mortgage broking landscape continues to evolve, Mark says Roost Mortgage Brokers stands as “a shining example of the invaluable contributions women make in the industry”. eir contribution is hugely important to the success of the business, he says. With a team of capable and compassionate professionals at the helm, he reckons the company is well-positioned to provide exceptional service and guidance to clients, inspiring and empowering more women to pursue successful careers in mortgage broking and shape the future of the industry.

Mark and Emma outside Roost The Roost team – left to right, Jade Edgar,Natalie Powley, Rachel Dowthwaite, Simone Wiggan, Rebecca Viale, Emma Pullar and Kelly Hopkins

The Evolution of Wake Up With Make Up Cosmetic Tattooing

Cosmetic Tattooing, which is also known as micropigmentation or permanent make up, has seen signi cant advancements over the years driven by both technological innovations and growing demand for more natural looking results.

Miranda Hill and her two daughters, Kaysee and Charmaine, are the women behind the local permanent makeup specialist brand, Wake Up With Make Up. ey have seen the evolution of the popular and highly specialised service.

“We are always advancing, such as one of our most popular techniques that includes hyper-realistic eyebrow tattooing, which uses a combination of strokes and shading to create the most natural looking brows.” Wake Up With Make Up’s Miranda Hill says. “ is is o en referred to as nano brows and involves using ultra ne needles to mimic the appearance of hair. Another technique gaining popularity is the use of digital machines for lip blushing – this enhances the natural colour and shape of your lips giving them a fuller more youthful appearance without the need for llers.”

Hill explains the appeal of the services o ered at Wake Up With Make Up saying, permanent makeup or micropigmentation is a highly specialised service most commonly seen on the eyebrows, eyeliner and lips. It can enhance natural beauty and minimise the time spent on your daily routine. e procedure uses pigments that are embedded beneath the skin to add colours and enhance the eyes, brows, and lips.

Hill built Wake Up With Make Up from the ground up a er an illustrious career in the beauty industry. Now, the trio each have di erent roles in the business that o ers beauty services in Queenstown, Christchurch, and Invercargill.

Wake Up With Make Up was started by long-term Queenstown local Miranda Hill in 2022. A er spending many years in the beauty industry working in diverse and demanding roles, she was formally trained in cosmetic tattooing and opened a beauty therapist business on Beach Street in 1995 before venturing to Millbrook Resort, where she was part of the team that built e Spa at Milbrook.

“From there, I headed to Christchurch and went into Spa Management and was lucky enough to be a part of putting together a spa operation including their set up and design/layout.” Hill says. “I got to the stage where I wanted to slow down,

work part time on my career and become more creative, especially with medical appearance medicine which has always played a big part in my career, but cosmetic tattooing is where I always anticipated going, and the timing was perfect!”

In 2016, Hill began her tattooing career and has never looked back. She purchased the trademark Wake Up With Make Up NZ two years ago and is so happy her daughters are also now part of the business, describing it as a real success for her personally.

“Kaysee is the operations manager and runs the day-to-day organisation including the administration of the business, and the social media and marketing. She does everything besides the tattooing, which also takes some of the pressure o me. Being a cosmetic tattooist means long hours with most of my time spent tattooing.”

She’s appreciative that Kaysee can relieve her of any of the additional tasks that are required when running your own small business.

“Charmaine is an internationally trained beauty therapist and has been working locally as an advanced skin therapist. She began her training in cosmetic tattooing over three years ago, following in her mother’s footsteps!” Hill smiles. “Between us we cover Queenstown and Invercargill, and Miranda is based in Christchurch but comes down to be around her family and grandchildren frequently.”

In the ever-evolving eld of cosmetic tattooing, staying ahead requires continuous learning and adaptation to the latest techniques, participating in workshops and collaborating with leading international artists.

Miranda, Charmaine, and Kaysee are committed to the highest quality services, and are dedicated to advancing their knowledge and skills, particularly by incorporating cutting-edge techniques and the newest developments in pigments and products from around the world.

As a family business in the cosmetic industry their goal is to combine their passion for art with the latest advancements to provide clients with unparalleled service ensuring that clients receive safe and pain free solutions.

You can read about Wake Up With Make Up’s full range of services and learn more about permanent makeup solutions, or make a booking at

June 2024 | Issue 35 LAKES BUSINESS

Taking care of those precious ‘gems’

Huge demand for quality childcare has prompted experienced Wellington childcare providers Vivien and David Hitchins to buy three more Wakatipu centres, bringing their total to four.

e couple has been greatly immersed in the realm of Early Childhood Education for more than 20 years, starting out in the industry on the Kapiti Coast when their own two children were little. “It provided an opportunity to cra enriching environments for young minds - a passion that’s propelled us forward ever since,” Vivien says.

e family-owned business has three boutique Wellington Childcare facilities in Island Bay, Johnsonville and Miramar, and now four around Queenstown. ey rst launched in Queenstown when they opened Curious Minds Early Learning at Five Mile in October last year. e previous facility had closed, and the Hitchins were driven by an ambition to extend nationwide, knowing that quality childcare was crucial, Vivien says.

“It’s become our passion. Early childhood education is so important. You’re looking a er people’s most prized precious gi s. It’s a big responsibility and huge privilege.”

Taking over the three new Gems Childcare properties from the end of May the Hitchins have retained all the current teachers, as well as the 10 sta already employed at Five Mile, all highly trained in nurturing, loving, and learning for littlies, from six months to ve years.

e three centres – Rata at Kawarau Heights, Miro at Lake Hayes Estate and Kowhai at Lower Shotover, cater for almost 190 children, and there’s already a waiting list at Rata, which operates for longer hours.

Besides ensuring their centres get regular makeovers and everything is in top condition, they place huge emphasis on valuing their sta and o ering full pay parity with kindergartens is a big priority.

“We recognise the critical role that well-trained educators play in shaping the future of children and we really value our teachers as they’re imperative for quality childcare,” Vivien says. “We’ve brought some amazing educators in from e Philippines since the Accredited Work Visa scheme was launched and they’re such beautiful people. It really changes their lives,” she says.

By welcoming foreign teachers, Vivien says they’ve not only enriched the educational environment with diverse perspectives, but also addressed the shortage of quali ed professionals in Aotearoa at present.

ere’s a wonderful multi-cultural avour on their teams, mixing Kiwis and many other cultures, all equally versed and quali ed in Te Reo and Maori culture. “We’re operating in a more transient, multicultural environment with so much lovely cultural diversity. We’re very sensitive to celebrating all our di erent cultures while also linking in with Te Reo.”

Realising the seriousness of Queenstown’s housing shortages, the Hitchins purchased an eight-bedroom, sta accommodation property where teachers and

sta can live. “We really wanted our foreign educators to enjoy a safe and beautiful living environment,” she says. “We’ve become like family.”

e new Gems Centres all operate a weekly Nature Play programme during which the children go on a farm or nature visit, year-round weather permitting, gummies in tow. ere are also trips to Arrowtown Library and other local locations. Vivien says sta always say they’ve noticed big changes in some of the children, especially a er engaging in the outdoor trips.

e Hitchins once owned a retirement village in Rotorua where the family’s love of bike trails was born, so Queenstown with its stunning scenery and high-quality trails was a huge attraction when they were looking to expand. ey now live here part-time.

“ ere’s a specialness about being here.”

Son Harrison, 25, now heads up property and facility safety, while daughter Sophia, 20, teaches part-time while studying.

“Our vision is to just keep building the businesses,” Vivien says. “Gems has an amazing reputation, so we want to build on that.”

It’s a totally di erent industry environment to the one they started out in more than 20 years ago, when centres were usually in converted houses. Sta ng is now one of the greatest challenges. However, the quality and standard of centres has vastly improved. “I think parents and operators expect more so the standards are really high which is great.”

ey don’t take lightly the privilege of nurturing what is most dear to parents’ hearts and it’s “truly a blessing”.

“We’re really grateful to the amazing communities that have entrusted us with such a monumental responsibility,” Vivien says.

“Every day is di erent, but the laughter, growth and curiosity of those little people in our centres continues to inspire us and remain a constant station in the heart of what we are trying to achieve.”


Rapid rise to success

When at 24, Brit, Clare Arrowsmith set o with a round the world ticket on her OE fresh out of Pharmacy School, never in her wildest imaginings did she expect to own a pharmacy on the other side of the world and marry a Kiwi guy who jumped out of planes for a living.

“I walked into Wilkinson’s Pharmacy in Queenstown in late 2005 and got a job straight away as they were opening another pharmacy at Remarkables Park,” says Clare. at’s now one of two pharmacies she and husband JP (John-Paul) own, the second having just opened at Jack’s Point.

She was the rst non-owner pharmacist employed at Remarkables Park Pharmacy. “I worked three days a week and skied four days, enjoying the Queenstown life.”

She’s been doing that for 19 years now, a er meeting NZONE Skydive jumpmaster JP at Queenstown Baptist Church about 18 months a er that initial job in town. “I worked for a year before doing another six months travel.” She returned to Remarkables and Wilkinson’s pharmacies and once she and JP married they spent some time back in the UK where the rst of their two daughters was born.

Unbeknown to Clare, Remarkables co-owner Glenn Mitchell had been hoping she would buy into the business. “When we arrived back in early 2014, I was pregnant with our second daughter and had a baby in my arms when Glenn asked if we wanted to buy in,” Clare smiles. “I didn’t think I’d have what it takes, but I had huge support from JP, Glenn and his wife, Ti any, which gave me con dence,” she says. “Sometimes an opportunity presents itself and you’ve just got to get stuck in, even if the timing’s not quite right.” It was a huge learning curve, and incurred massive debt, but thankfully Clare’s precious Nan back in the UK had le her a house deposit to borrow against at just the right time.

“When we rst came to Queenstown I had just a backpack to my name and JP lived in his van,” she says. “We always ride through it together.” is was no more true than when Covid hit, just a few months a er they’d bought Remarkables Pharmacy outright. Every good woman needs a good man and fortunately JP can put his hand to anything. He quit as manager

of JUCY Cruise and came to work in the business. “He’s very personable, a retail manager type of guy.” Clare’s taught him everything she’d learnt and they now share all aspects of the business. “We’re both good communicators. We’re in it together through thick and thin. We just make it work.”

eir team of 17 is largely female, with JP and locally raised pharmacist Cohen Nash among just four males. “We’ve got a great team. We get lots of feedback about how friendly and welcoming we are. at comes from the top down. We believe in being there to support our sta and customers. We all like to go the extra mile.” As a pharmacist, being a mum brings great insight with their 11 and 9-year-old daughters on “product taste control”.

ere’s a stark di erence between how business was done in her early days in Queenstown and now. “Pharmacists are much more involved in patient care now.”

Strong retail turnover is essential to make a pharmacy work and Clare’s always enjoyed sourcing the best and newest innovations and products. “I enjoy that the most. It’s in my blood. Mum’s uncle owned supermarkets in the UK.”

Her business is about stocking what the customers want, and in the case of the Arrowsmith’s second pharmacy that’s just launched next to the medical centre and nursery at Jack’s Point, that’s meant becoming a mini dairy too.

“We’re selling bread, eggs and milk and a few other household cleaning things, along with our usual healthy snacks and protein bars, as our customers have been asking for it,” Clare says. “We want people to know that we can sell anything we sell at the Remarkables Park pharmacy and that they can talk to us if they want a particular product.”

So far there’s been a “lovely, overwhelming response” to their new weekday pharmacy.

It was a bold business step, but one Clare says felt absolutely right at every step. “We’re perfectly positioned here for future growth.”

June 2024 | Issue 35 LAKES BUSINESS
Clare, right, and husband JP outside their new Jack’s Point Pharmacy

Lisa Leftley – Pivotal Point Charitable Trust - making a difference

A Queenstown mum of four with a medical science background has put her entrepreneurial skills to work to ensure that no neurodivergent kids miss out on screening and support, with interest in her ndings already gathering national momentum.

Lisa Le ley is now hoping to prompt change at central government level using data gathered locally by Pivotal Point Charitable Trust, which she founded a er the Covid lockdowns. “I realised how unfair it was that my son was receiving private tuition on Zoom while people were standing in queues waiting for food. e inequity was outrageous,” she says.

anks to a $100,000 seed funding grant from Impact100 in 2021, the trust has already been able to make a signi cant di erence locally. Up until then, Le ley and her husband had self-funded the project, enlisting some amazingly, supportive trustees. “It was the rst charitable trust I’d ever set up – a very new entity for me,” Le ley says. “It was a massive undertaking.” But passion pushed her through. With the $100,000 boost from Impact 100’s funding the trust has been able to start educating the community and local teachers about neurodiversity and the indicators to watch out for. “We’ve been able to deliver educational funding and development to all the local primary schools and teachers, o ering practical strategies,” Le ley says.

When Le ley and her husband arrived from Britain, they were shocked at how far behind New Zealand’s education system was in supporting children with neurodiversity, which includes everything from dyslexia to ADHD and autism. “Everything we’ve accessed has been through private funding and I couldn’t sit back and just let my children be okay while others struggled.”

Le ley says equality in education is a basic human right, regardless of socioeconomic status. “Children are our future and education will help improve NZ’s economy and societal behaviour ensuring everyone reaches their goals.”

She’s concerned that so many NZ kids are falling through the cracks undetected when they’re super intelligent but just ‘out of the box’ thinkers with brains that are wired di erently.

Pivotal Point is all about “removing the negative stigma” and prejudice that keeps many parents from seeking help for their children.

At least one in ve NZ children are neurodivergent – 20% of the population, 10 to 15% are dyslexic. Le ley says it’s paramount that these subtle di erences are picked up at school to ensure they don’t fall through the cracks. “Up to 90% of our prison

population are dyslexic and between 25 and 50% have ADHD,” she says. “If we don’t do something now in our education system, there will be huge social rami cations, leaving our justice system overrun by those who weren’t o ered the right support early on.”

In just a few years, with Le ley at the helm as CEO, the trust has launched a local screening programme, starting last year in two schools and six schools this year. at’s in addition to free one-on-one support for parents and children, all driven by Le ley’s passion to make a real di erence for the community.

“I really care and believe the right support at the right time can be life changing,” she says. “My son is a perfect example.” She wants every primary school-age child in the Wakatipu to receive free screening through the trust, something she’s driven to achieve.

e screening programme is scalable and Le ley’s aim is to have Year 4 screening for every local child (with consent). Tangible NZ data could then be provided to the government so they’re aware of what’s lacking in our schools, she says. ey’re currently relying on international data. “ is will help identify the extent of the problem and get kids the support they need in our school system, and ensure teachers get the proper training and resources to provide that.” ere’s interest in the programme from Auckland, Nelson, Te Anau, the West Coast, all asking for help, she says.

e trust has helped more than 28 families through its Pivotal Point Pledge so far and provided more than 330 families access its one-hour, free tele navigation service alone. Applications have now opened for the third round of Pledge funding which provides help towards essential specialist assessments and therapies.

Parent Support Groups are also run monthly on the rst Tuesday – 9.15am –10.45am at Te Atamira.

Pivotal Point Charitable Trust

To donate or apply for funding assistance see:

Impact100 Wakatipu

Expressions of interest applications for 2024 Impact100 grants are available at and close at 5pm on 21 June.

Lisa Leftley, of Pivotal Point Charitable Trust, left, with Impact100 chair Clare Irons at an art gallery event
Givetogetherwith inspirationalwomen.
Impact100 chair Clare Irons, left, and Lisa Leftley being presented with the $100,000 cheque


A Conversation with Donna Harris: Redefining Real Estate Excellence

In the bustling world of real estate, where every transaction is as unique as the individuals involved, Donna Harris stands out as a beacon of expertise, empathy, and unwavering dedication. English-born and bred, Donna’s journey as a real estate agent in Queenstown has been marked by a tapestry of experiences, blending her passion for the community with a wealth of industry knowledge.

“My journey in real estate has been quite diverse. I’ve been fortunate to have lived in Queenstown for 11 years now, and my love for this community has been a driving force in my career. As a busy mom to a fouryear-old daughter and a lively ginger border collie, Ellie, I understand the importance of balancing family life with the needs of my clients. My background in property management, coupled with my studies in human psychology, sparked my interest in real estate. I’ve always had a natural curiosity and love for problem-solving, traits that have served me well in this industry.”

With 14 years of experience in the property management industry, Donna has weathered the challenges of UK recession sales, honed her expertise in property management, and spent seven years specialising in selling residential properties in Queenstown. Her diverse background has equipped her with a deep understanding of the industry and an unwavering commitment to her clients.

“My journey has been lled with ups and downs. Each experience has contributed to my growth as an agent and deepened my understanding of the industry. My goal has always been to provide exceptional service to my clients, keeping their best interests at heart every step of the way.”

“For me, success is not just about numbers; it’s about making a positive impact in people’s lives. I nd immense ful lment in guiding my clients through

important property decisions and helping them move forward with their lives. My approach is rooted in empathy, sensitivity, and genuine care for my clients’ well-being. Building trust and long-term relationships is paramount to me, and I always strive to exceed expectations in every interaction.”

“Collaboration is key in our industry, and I’m fortunate to be part of a team that shares my commitment to excellence. At Bayleys, we work together seamlessly, pooling our collective expertise to deliver exceptional results for our clients. e exibility of my job allows me to adapt to my clients’ busy schedules, providing a full-service experience that is both supportive and memorable.”

In the realm of real estate, Donna Harris is more than just an agent; she’s a compassionate problem-solver, an expert negotiator, and a trusted advisor. With her unique blend of skills and unwavering dedication, Donna continues to rede ne excellence in the industry, one client at a time.

June 2024 | Issue 35 LAKES BUSINESS

Trust your instinct and follow your passion

Like many others in this town, I o en sit at my desk and gaze at the breath-taking views of Queenstown. In those moments, I can’t help but re ect on the winding path that led me here.

Born in Arizona, I moved to New Zealand during high school. From the moment I set foot in Queenstown as an 18-year-old uni student wearing Barkers sweatpants, I knew I would settle here. Fast forward 20 years, and here I am, living my dream and contributing to our vibrant community by running my own law practice, the Visa Shop.

My career began in Melbourne, where I landed my rst job in the eld of food law. e subject intrigued me, but the ethical dilemma of “what can we get away with” clashed with my values. Facing pressure to endure, I trusted my instincts and quit a er six months, leaving behind food labels and my boss’ penchant for sardine lunches in my o ce.

Enter the turning point – following my intrigue, I began volunteering with a community legal centre. e brightly coloured walls, the sense of purpose – it was a stark contrast from my previous work environment. My passion for immigration and refugee law ignited. us began my 15-year odyssey of advocating for refugees and migrants.

From private practice to NGO’s, from legal aid commissions to management roles – my diverse career has a orded me many opportunities around the world. It hasn’t always been easy, but I always nd solace in the wisdom of my late mother, a former judge, who taught me that helping just one person is enough. e Visa Shop was born out of the challenges of Covid-19. Marooned in New Zealand, I had to say goodbye to a job o er in Sydney and pivot. Encouraged by my partner Andy’s sage advice: “Launch your own business! Once you taste the freedom, you won’t look back. You can always get a job if it doesn’t work out’. I took the leap, and well, he was right. I’ve never looked back.

Having my own business allows me to do the work I love on my own terms, while balancing motherhood and family life. I assist businesses and individuals with Australian and New Zealand visas and citizenship. I continue my refugee work, which these days focuses on Afghani refugees, including reuniting children separated from their parents. I’ll forever cherish being able to do all this from the snow-capped mountains of Queenstown.

If you’re in need of Australian/New Zealand immigration assistance, please contact me, Alexandra Jannetto: | 021 208 5894



Learn how to decarbonise your business, save on costs and maximise profit. All businesses welcome. Free to attend.

Monday 24 June, Millbrook Resort

Scan to register

Empowering Women in Fitness

Two years ago Carla De Nijs rebranded Remarkables Women’s Health & Fitness to Tru. Now, she’s excited to be developing a shop in the gym where she can sell her activewear line that shares the name. She’s passionate about providing a comfortable and welcoming space for women to workout in and brings a fresh and fun approach to tness.

De Nijs is a personal trainer and nutritionist, who was born and grew up in Brazil before moving to New Zealand in 2005 on a search for adventure. She’s always had a strong vision for what she wanted to deliver in the female health space, wanting to bring empowerment and con dence to women. Rebranding to Tru, which is short for ‘the real you’, and bringing out an activewear line was all part of the process of achieving her goals.

“I used to train people from my garage back home,” De Nijs says. “ en in 2017 the gym came up for sale and we decided to expand from the garage. I’ve been working with women through online tness since 2012 and I just felt that this was a good opportunity to get my knowledge on nutrition, get my knowledge and passion for personal training out there and run a gym the way that I think girls deserve.”

Not only does De Nijs work to make a welcoming space, but members of the gym also get involved in creating a warm environment. She says a lot of members come through as referrals, so it feels like one big family.

She also wants to help women to look and feel amazingly con dent in and outside of the gym. She o en looks to overseas markets such as Australia, America and Brazil to see what they’re doing in the way of activewear. “Here, it’s a safe space for them to explore all the clothing they want because there’s no judgement.”

De Nijs is really enjoying running the gym, from the people she meets to learning all the behind-the-scenes of running a business. She explains that her journey to opening the gym and now her own clothing line has been a really positive one.

“We have such a good supportive community here at the gym. I’m not saying that I haven’t come into any struggles – we lost a lot of members during Covid and then we came alive a er that, and that’s when I decided to rebrand the gym because I felt like we needed to be reborn again. It’s way easier to tackle challenges when you’re super passionate about what you do and have con dence in yourself. Plus, having a supportive team with the same beliefs and goals is a game-changer. For us, it’s all about helping women succeed in their tness journey and feel con dent and empowered. With that in mind, it’s easier to keep pushing through, even when obstacles pop up.”

If you’d like to learn more about Tru’s fresh and fun approach to tness, or learn more about the services and classes on o er, you can head to

June 2024 | Issue 35 LAKES BUSINESS

Meet the women of Custom Mortgages

e team at Custom Mortgages is proud to have a group of talented women in its midst - all bankers and each with many years’ experience in the industry. Justine, Rebeca and Alison are three of Custom Mortgages’ mortgage advisors and they are known for their personable, tailored approach to the lending process.

Justine Till


Justine has lived in Queenstown since 2012 when she caught the snow bug, took a chance, and moved over the ditch from Western Australia.

She is passionate about the region and is eager to help her customers navigate complex mortgage scenarios by providing clear, actionable advice. Her customerrst mentality is central to everything she does, and she loves to help everyone from all walks of life achieve their goal of buying property.

Justine and her partner have also been building their own home over the last 12 months, so she has rsthand experience in the local building process and the unique challenges faced in the region. is insight pairs well with her knowledge of construction lending.

Rebeca Barnes Queenstown/Cromwell

Rebeca has lived in Central Otago for over 22 years and is a familiar face to many in the area – not only for her day-to-day work but for her involvement in the local community.

Rebeca is a real people person. She loves the varying views of customers and scenarios she is exposed to in mortgage advising, and she relishes the challenge of nding the way forward to help her customers achieve their goals, while saving them time and money.

Rebeca’s community involvement includes initiatives which promote community and inclusiveness as she believes this is important in a town like Queenstown, with residents who are o en far from their families and support networks. She is proud to be involved with Impact100, Baskets of Blessings, and the St. Joseph’s Primary School PTA, to name a few.

Why Custom Mortgages

At Custom Mortgages, you will nd a team that works hard to build relationships with its customers and lenders to provide a more customised and personal experience. Rebeca, Justine, Alison and the rest of the team understand the industry and work closely with all the banks, plus a number of other lenders, to nd the best solution for its customers.

Alison originally hails from Dunedin but now calls Cromwell home. She has strong ties to the Cromwell and Central Otago region and these connections brought her and her family here a er time spent in Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin.

Alison has a wealth of experience in business and commercial lending which has given her an ability to tackle complex applications. She enjoys teaming up with her customers’ other advisors (solicitors, tax accountants, etc) to ensure the best structure for investments from the get-go. She thrives on giving her home and business customers a personalised and streamlined approach, so they feel comfortable and well-informed throughout the process.

Get in touch

Ensure you have nancing arrangements that match the scale and timeframe of your project, plans, or needs. Whether you are a rst home buyer, buying your next home, an investor, re nancing or building your home, reach out to Justine, Rebeca or Alison via our website:

Alison Mair Cromwell

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