Two years ago Emma Heke dug up her unproductive lawn in Washington Valley and started planting herbs to make into her own teas.
“That’s unique,” she says. “Most people buy them in from a wholesaler and sell them in highly-branded bags.”
Instead, Heke Homemade Herbals keeps it low key – selling teas only through Facebook and markets.
On Friday night, Emma’s hard work in developing the now thriving business was recognised at the Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce Business Awards.
The awards were held at the Trafalgar Centre with 420 people coming along to recognise the best of the best.
Emma won the innovation award. “I really want to mainstream organic herbal teas, so I make it as affordable as possible.”
Emma also helps cafes with their tea menus and has even flavoured breweries’ beer on request.
She also says the awards were a great way to take stock of her business. “It was the first time I’ve stepped out and looked at it – right from beginning it went big quickly and I was scrambling to keep up with demand.”
Now she hopes the award will help give her recognition that she is on the right track and allow her to develop different business streams.
Tourism operators were the big winners at awards. Abel Tasman Canyons was judged as the Supreme Business Award Winner after it also took out the Small Medium Enterprise award earlier in the evening.
The business offers guided canyon trips in the Abel Tasman, Kahurangi and Mt Richmond Forest Parks. R&R Kayaks won the Start-Up award and Wilsons Abel Tasman won the Large Business award.
Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce chief executive Grant Kerr labelled the evening “inspiring”.
Grant also paid tribute to the entrants, judges and sponsors and reflected on the growth the region has experienced over the past 12 months, thanks to the tenacity and confidence of businesses in the region.
Other winners were McCraes Blinds and Screens (large business excellence), Ngāti Koata Trust (investing in people and skills) and Paradise Brokers (service excellence).