People power: New Zealand leaders celebrated at inaugural Aotearoa Hotel Industry Leadership Awards

by Ruth Hogan

The top performers in New Zealand’s hotel industry were honoured on Tuesday October 10 at the inaugural Aotearoa Hotel Industry Leadership Awards with worthy winners from a number of hotels across the country.

The awards were presented at a gala networking event, presented by IHG Hotels and Resorts, as part of the Aotearoa Hotel Industry Conference and Exhibition (AHICE Aotearoa) which is underway in Wellington.

Christine Hurring took home the Hotel Industry Act of Service award. As Director of Workplace Experience at Hind Management – covering Sudima Hotels and Novotel Christchurch Airport – Hurring has played a pivotal role in assisting exploited immigrants in finding meaningful work and offering support beyond mere employment.

Christine has organised cultural awareness events to foster a sense of belonging and connection among immigrant employees and set up language classes to improve communication and integration into the workforce, among a range of initiatives.

EVT Hotel Training and Development Manager, Petru-Ann Domingues, and The Hotel Britomart’s General Manager and Director of Hotel Engagement Soap Aid Australia/New Zealand, Clinton Farley, were both Highly Commended in this category.

The Hotel Industry Outstanding Team of the Year award went to the team at Nesuto Stadium Hotel and Apartments.

Following the fall of Kabul in August 2021, Nesuto Stadium was the designated first welcome to New Zealand for Afghan evacuees with the team providing welcoming accommodation and food while their immigration status was processed.

The Nesuto team worked with government and logistics teams to ensure the hotel could accommodate the maximum number of evacuees and at one point had over 750 people at the hotel.

Cordis Auckland and EVT Hotels’ New Zealand team were both Highly Commended in this category.

The Hotel Industry Senior Executive of the Year was awarded to Accor’s Joanne Craughwell, who was recognised for her outstanding leadership of teams in Fiji, French Polynesia, and New Zealand throughout the pandemic.

When faced with adversity, particularly during the Sofitel Auckland flooding, Craughwell exhibited compassion and leadership by providing essential support to staff left without shelter.

She has initiated a pilot program for Maori cultural training, scheduled to launch in December. Additionally, she played a pivotal role in organising Maori culture capability training for senior leaders within Accor, fostering a deeper understanding of the culture and promoting inclusivity.

Craughwell has also implemented progressive policies such as paid parental leave and gender affirmation leave.

Highly Commended in this category were Swiss-Belhotel International Executive Director/Chairman and President Gavin M. Faull and Holiday Inn Express and Suites Queenstown General Manager, Jason Sabin.