In 2017, on Friday 23 June, during the Puaka Matariki KUMA hui, the Suzanne Spencer Memorial Business Award went to Kahuwai Clothing/Amber Bridgman, who spoke to the theme of Innovation in her business. Guests were treated to a showcase of her fashion garments that fuse tikanga and whakapapa with design and a sustainable modern treatment of materials to make stunning, internationally acclaimed designs.
Suzanne Spencer was a mentor, advisor, supporter, advocate, and tireless supporter of numerous businesses and business people in the Māori community in Otago and Southland. Working for Te Puni Kōkiri, Suzanne used her extensive network across the country to establish and organise what became the Māori Business Network, Te Kupeka Umaka Māori ki Araiteuru, or KUMA.
Tragically passing away in 2012, the Māori business community wanted an appropriate acknowledgement of Suzanne's vision for Māori economic growth, and contribution to the local economy through new and growth businesses run by and with Māori innovators, and entrepreneurs. So, with the blessing of her husband Frank and her daughters Jackie and Esther, the Suzanne Spencer Memorial Business Award was launched, to be passed on to a KUMA business at each annual hui.
E te kuia, moe mai, moe mai, moe mai.
The previous recipients of the Award have been:
2012: Ngāi Tahu Law Commission
2013: Te Anau Holiday Park
2014, Awarua Synergy (and 2017 runner up)
2015: at the ten year commemoration of KUMA hui, there was a joint presentation to all who had been members continuously for ten years.
Amber Bridgman, Designer/Creator, with models