Posted by James Wheeler on May 07, 2018
Girls can do almost anything!
"​​​​​​​Two women pilots were flying their Air New Zealand Q300 into Wellington airport.
They landed and taxied up to the gate……..Question……..who parks the plane?"
Ok, before you go running and screaming to the Human Rights Commission, complain to the sergeant or join the #ME TOO campaign.  Let me tell you about the women who fly MY plane.
My family company Wakatū Incorporation is 41 years old this year.  We grow apples, pears, hops and kiwifruit on 400hts in Motueka. We also have 200hts of green-shell mussel farms in the Marlborough Sounds and a large processing plant in Blenheim.  We own Annie’s Fruit bar company in Blenheim and send 150 tonnes of live crayfish a year to Shanghai, China.  We have our own office in Shanghai with 3 Chinese nationals working for us there. We export all the above to 25 Countries around the world under the one company name KONO NZ LP. 
Our TOHU Wine company (240,000 doz this year) is also administrated by KONO but exports in its own name as it is regarded as one of the pre-eminent Māori brands of Aotearoa.
KONO CEO, Rachel Taulelai
Our KONO CEO is Rachel Taulelai (nee Roper).  Rachel is a Lower Hutt Girl and she and her brother Nathan went to school with my sons.  She has a Law degree but she prefers the cut and thrust of business.  Her parents John and Caroline Roper own Horizon Paving in Petone.
She is a former US Trade Commissioner, and founder of Yellow Brick Road Limited, a company that specialisesRachel is a Board Trustee on the Sir Peter Blake Trust, Young Enterprise in supplying quality seafood direct from boats into restaurants throughout New Zealand.  We bought that from her when she became our CEO.
Rachel is a Board Trustee on the Sir Peter Blake Trust, Young Enterprise Trust, and the Wellington Regional Stadium Trust. She is a Director of iwi-owned fishing company Moana NZ, NZ Wine Growers, and Aquaculture NZ.
Rachel is a fierce advocate of New Zealand’s primary industry and has spent 20 years propagating messages of Aotearoa, being a world-class producer of food and beverages. Rachel is one of us, an Owner with Ngati Rarua whakapapa.  She was also one of our Associate Directors in Wakatu some years ago. 
She leads our 450 employees in KONO and is regarded by many (me included) as one of the most charismatic Māori women leaders today.  She was installed by the University of Auckland as Māori Business Woman Of The Year last week, and will leave shortly to complete a short course at Stanford University in the USA.  This was because she won the Prime Ministers Scholarship last year that will largely pay for this. 
Wakatū Incorporation is our landowning head company.  Although we the owners have obvious Iwi connections, we are solely a land and sea business with no ownership by Iwi. There are around 50 people employed at Wākatu House in Nelson and with the KONO employees make us the largest private payroll (500+) in Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Maui, (top of the South).
Wakatū CEO, Kerensa Johnston
Our Wākatu CEO Kerensa, is a lawyer who has worked as a solicitor in the private sector, a legal academic at the Faculty of Law, University of Auckland, where she specialised in Māori legal development, public law and land law, and as a Barrister. She is also one of our Owners through her Ngati Tama whakapapa.
Kerensa joined Wakatū Incorporation in December 2012 as its Incorporation Secretary and General Counsel. She was appointed Wakatu CEO in December 2016. She is General Counsel for Kono NZ LP, the Food and Beverage business of Wakatu. 
Kerensa is a graduate of Victoria University, where she was awarded a BA in History and an LLB. She has a Masters in Laws in International Law (First Class Honours) from the University of Auckland. Kerensa is a member of the International Association of Corporate Counsel, Corporate Lawyers’ New Zealand and Te Hunga Roia. 
Kerensa has led our property rights fight through the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court in what we regard as a stunning victory in February last year. 
Wākatu own 100% of KONO NZ LP and although they are operated as separate business’s we merge the financials at balance date.  Wākatu is mainly involved in the political, legal and cultural aspects of our Nelson Tenths land.  We also through our Whenua (land) company establish residential, commercial and industrial sub-divisions that return us a very healthy profit.  Our combined Net Profit last year was $20 Million. 
These then, are the ladies that fly MY plane. 
Girls CAN do anything! smiley