Celebrating leadership in workplace wellbeing

When you’re with the right people it shows and that’s something great business leaders understand. That’s why we’ve created the Southern Cross Wayfinder Awards.

A first-of-its-kind annual award programme that celebrates the visionary businesses, business leaders, and employees who value their workforce and grow the health and wellbeing of their people.

2023 Winners

We’d like to acknowledge the 69 entries we received from across New Zealand and whakamahi/congratulate our winners and runners up, which were announced in a ceremony at Auckland Museum on Tuesday 21 November. All of you are creating pathways that will lead to a meaningful culture of wellbeing within, not only your organisation, but also Aotearoa.

When comparing the winning entries, there were a couple of key themes that emerged for the judging panel. The first being a clear demonstration of organisations understanding their culture and how it’s impacted by health and wellbeing initiatives. It was evident across the entries how wellbeing enhances the connectivity and engagement within a business and how this leads to success, with great leadership being central to this transformation. Lastly, empowering employees to develop meaningful connection to the work they do is crucial to wellbeing.


GOLD: Nadene Winchester | Dynamic Controls

Nadene Winchester has redefined wellbeing in the workplace for the global team at Dynamic Controls. With a knack for identifying creative solutions and a genuine desire to support her colleagues, Nadene has made a monumental impact on team culture. In addition to her core role as People & Capability Coordinator, Nadene has created and led a range of wellbeing initiatives and activities – ensuring the programme is completely inclusive and accessible to staff regardless of geographic location. Spotting the potential for a sense of disconnection due disparate time zones, Nadene successfully scaled the wellbeing activity globally, using it as a tool to connect and unite people across the business.

Nadene’s game-changing approach takes the traditional five pillars of wellbeing and reframes them to empower others, instilling a genuine sense of connection and community for team members all over the world. As a result of her mahi, staff are now interacting, sharing photos and progress of wellbeing activity. For people who were once disconnected globally, the impact is undeniable.

Nadene impressed the judges with her ability to identify and address the wellbeing needs of a global workforce. “The global programme, the strategic themes and their thinking was quite unique,” observed Carolyn Luey.

“As a result of her efforts, the teams are now interacting, sharing photos and progress of wellbeing activity. For people who were disconnected globally, that is the impact.” said Judge Dr Denise Quinlan.

Nick Astwick noted “She is the biggest connector, there's no doubt about it.” 

SILVER: Matthew Walker | Te Rūnanga O Ngāi Tahu

BRONZE: Jen Southan | Orix


GOLD: Rob Holmes | PaperKite

Rob Holmes’ impact at PaperKite is perhaps best exemplified by the mantra he lives by – “what’s best for our people is best for our business”. The positive impact of this approach was so apparent that PaperKite ultimately adopted it as part of the core brand strategy. As Discovery Director at PaperKite, Rob has led a number of key initiatives and changes, including reframing sick leave, improving wages for support team and suppliers, creating a Covid contact tracing app and spearheading a transformative strategic plan with a dual approach to coach and supporting individuals with skills to learn and grow. This strategy provides every staff member both a People Coach and a Discipline Lead to focus on personal and professional development – with resounding success. His innovative leadership approach looks at wellbeing with a 360 lens, implementing structural changes to lift wellbeing from the ground up, for the long term. Through it all, he leads with a selfless, thoughtful and empathetic perspective, empowering others to do their best work.

Recipient Rob Holmes garnered high praise from Nick Astwick, Chief Executive Southern Cross Health Society & Judging Convenor, “The application was quite exceptional all-round. This was multifaceted and leadership at its best.”

Judge Caroly Luey said “For me, the absolute standout was Rob. I think he has quite an innovative leadership approach – he has taken a true 360 approach to health and wellbeing. I really liked he’s taken a kind of agile methodology and given them a Discipline Lead and People Lead. This philosophy was truly forward thinking, we know it is hard to be a subject matter leader and people manager at the same time, I think splitting them has worked really well.”

Judge Shaun Robinson of the Mental Health Foundation noted “Everybody in the organisation respects and recognises him as a leader, that's pretty outstanding.” 

SILVER: Richard Schorfield | Spectrum Consulting

BRONZE: Joseph Zermatten | CS Roofing Canterbury


GOLD: Thankyou Payroll

Thankyou Payroll has a wellbeing philosophy that runs deep. By placing employees at the heart of their business model, they’ve achieved financial success, a stable and positive working culture, and higher than ever customer satisfaction. Their holistic approach encompasses four key areas of physical, mental, environmental and financial wellbeing, and existing policies have also been reviewed and adjusted to reflect this commitment. In a recent culture survey, 95.7% of staff agreed that a healthy workplace is a top priority for Thankyou Payroll. In addition, a wider ‘Better Business’ strategy has been co-created by the Senior Leadership team and board, with a vision to create a world where business exists in service of people and the planet. This strategy is underpinned by four key pillars: Culture, Impact, Payroll and Te Tiriti o Waitangi – all working together to put people at the heart of everything they do and keep leadership accountable long term. Beyond that, the team at Thankyou Payroll share best practices and learnings with their customer base of 7,000 small businesses – supporting their vision of making Aotearoa New Zealand a better place to work.

Judge and Mental Health Foundation CEO Shaun Robinson said “Thankyou Payroll was absolutely a standout – having made wellbeing a core feature of their whole strategy.”

Nick Astwick noted “There's quite a deep employee wellbeing philosophy.”

Shaun added “One of the other things I really liked about Thankyou Payroll is that they try to influence their customers around wellbeing, and they see themselves as a role model.” 

SILVER: Maynard Marks

BRONZE: Find Recruitment


GOLD: Marlborough Lines

Marlborough Lines are on a mission to keep employee voices front and centre, evolving a strategy through consultation and input from the people who matter most. Recognising the need for change, Marlborough Lines created a unique programme tailored to the needs of their predominantly male workforce. Staff are encouraged to seek help when they need it, made easier by bringing healthcare providers onsite. Marlborough Lines have built trust by helping employees recognise that the initiatives aren’t a passing fad, but a long-term and sustainable programme that can offer them real and tangible benefits. The business measures new initiatives not by cost to implement, but by uptake and value to employees. The results speak for themselves – low staff turnover and wider community impact as staff take these initiatives back to their friends and whānau.

Mental Health Foundation CEO Shaun Robinson said, “Their wellbeing programme scored top in their engagement survey. They asked specific questions about feeling comfortable about asking for help, being themselves at work and whether employees feel they can balance their work and private life. They observed more openness and conversations happening in the workplace.”

“Their $500 wellbeing benefit – it would be really easy to make that a gym membership, but they’ve acknowledged that doesn't work for all their people. That’s what I like – recognising that what genuinely will work for people is different.” said Dr Denise Quinlan.

SILVER: Christchurch Casino



GOLD: Kiwibank

Kiwibank has a strong and clear business purpose: Kiwi making Kiwi better off. Over the past few years, this organisation has been on a journey to bring this purpose to life – kicking off at home with the Kiwibank whānau. After extensive consultation with the team, Ngā Kauwaka was launched in 2021: a vessel deepening and clarifying Kiwibank’s core values. With this platform in place, Kiwibank could then develop a holistic and multi-faceted approach to supporting the wellbeing of their people – which includes specialised opportunities for personal growth and development; a supported leave programme; supporting the financial wellbeing of their people and families; actively promoting health and wellbeing through access to resources; and a focus on networks, partnerships and accreditations.

This comprehensive structural overhaul also looked at practical ways to support wellbeing, like the default shortening of meeting times to reduce the impact of meeting-heavy days. Overall, Kiwibank have approached wellbeing initiatives not as a band-aid to fix a problem, but to address the problem from the inside out: connecting people to purpose in their work, paying attention to their learning and development, and providing more flexible working conditions. The results speak for themselves: with voluntary turnover reduced from 19.98% in November 2022 to 13.56% in July 2023, and employee advocacy on LinkedIn has increased from 5.10% to 7.14% in July 2023.

“It was the comprehensiveness – from looking at the career progression, pay parity – they're trying to work across the breadth, they're trying to go deep, and it feels genuine.”  said judge Dr Denise Quinlan.

Professor Grant Schofield noted, “Kiwibank’s framework and level of organisation, was at another level. They’ve thought about all the conceivable ways you can attack this issue and had a go at it.”

Dr Denise Quinlan further noted “I’m really impressed by their purpose - acknowledging that staff don't just come to work for a paycheck. Purpose is important and so is connecting people to that sense of purpose. That's a deep structural piece. And the other bit I love is, aside from the deep structure, is the really practical things like changing Outlook to have shorter default meetings, so people get a break between meetings.”   




GOLD: Spark

At the close of 2021, Spark launched an innovative new wellbeing strategy for their people – Mahi Tahi. Meaning ‘partnership’ in te reo Māori, Mahi Tahi recognises the need for business working in partnership with people to support them to achieve their goals in work and life. This ground-breaking programme addressed the pressing needs of staff post-Covid, but also created a long-term structure of holistic support. Using experts and wellbeing partners, Mahi Tahi provides a channel of advice and expertise that can be accessed by anyone, on demand, in a way that suits individual needs. This includes access to two qualified psychologists, and partnerships with existing tools like Take a Breath, a breathing app designed to reduce stress and anxiety. To date, around 40% of staff are using the app – noting that it has helped combat anxiety and improve sleep.

In addition, the programme includes training and certification of a team of wellbeing coaches from Spark’s own workforce, along with a wellbeing hub providing access to a diverse range of support options to help people navigate challenges and perform at their best. To further integrate these principles into core business practice, wellbeing objectives and KPI’s are incorporated into quarterly planning. This sustainable, long-term approach puts wellbeing at heart of everything Spark does.

The judges were quick to applaud Spark’s in-house approach to wellbeing. Dr Denise Quinlan said, “The piece that's innovative is the bringing it in-house and making it sustainable by having 55 certified wellbeing coaches.”

“With the Take A Breath app they have got 40% of their people using it, that's significant and the hallmark of a successful initiative.” said Carolyn Luey.

Nick Astwick noted “There’s lots of innovation around embedding the programme.” 

SILVER: Find Recruitment

BRONZE: Profile Group


We had a stellar panel of health industry and business leaders who judged the inaugural Southern Cross Health Insurance Wayfinder Awards.

  • Dr Denise Quinlan, MAPP, PhD – Director of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing & Resilience
  • Professor Grant Schofield, PhD – Professor of Public Health; Director, Human Potential Centre at Auckland University of Technology; and Chief Science Officer, PreKure
  • Shaun Robinson - Chief Executive, Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
  • Carolyn Luey – Chief Digital & Publishing Officer, NZME
  • Victoria Young – Investigations Editor, BusinessDesk, NZME
  • Nick Astwick – Chief Executive, Southern Cross Health Society (Judging Convenor)

Meet our awards judges

A big congratulations to all our 2023 winners.

Watch this space for Call for Nominations mid-2024 to enter the 2024 Southern Cross Health Insurance Wayfinder Awards.