New World Victoria Park owner hopes his win will inspire others
(Left to right) -
Phillip Te Waka Davis Chairman of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust, Dr
Chellie Spiller, Business School Associate Dean, Maori and Pacific,
Professor Greg Whittred, Dean of the Business School, and Jason
Witehira recipient of the 2016 Outstanding Māori Business Leaders
New World owner-operator Jason Witehira, the winner
of the 2016 Outstanding Māori Business Leaders Award, is hoping his
win will serve as an inspiration for other Māori men and women.
Witehira, who owns New World Victoria Park and is also chairman of
the New World North Island supermarket owners' group, was honoured
at the Aotearoa New Zealand Māori Business Leaders Awards, on
He says he's proud and honoured to have had his 32
years of working in the retail food industry acknowledged by the
awards, which are run by the University of Auckland Business
School. "I'm also hopeful that my win will serve as inspiration to
others of what can be achieved with a bit of focus and the right
attitude," says Witehira.
Witehira's rise up the supermarket ladder started
right at the bottom, stacking produce as a 16-year-old school
leaver at New World Edmond Road in Rotorua, in 1984. Within two
years, he'd been promoted to produce department manager, and in
1998 he became a supermarket owner, acquiring the New World
Taumarunui. In 2001, Jason and his wife, Kimiora, bought the New
World at Botany Town Centre. Then, in 2010, moved to New World
Victoria Park, which is located in the heart of Auckland City.
In an emotional acceptance speech, Witehira said
success is about "being an individual and believing in yourself."
Witehira believes that if you stay true to yourself and true to
your company values you will succeed.
"I always knew I could run a store, and I tried hard
to listen to those who were already doing it and took their advice
on board," he adds.
Among his mentors, Witehira names other Foodstuffs
owner-operators including Leo O'Sullivan (PAK'nSAVE Petone), Russ
Wilkinson (New World Mount Roskill) and Rob Redwood (PAK'nSAVE Glen
Innes). "All three have had a big influence on my career path and
success - all in different ways and all at different stages
throughout my career."
For Witehira though, none of this would have happened
without his family, "it's whānau that's the key to my success". "My
wife and business partner, Kimiora, is my greatest mentor, having
helped build all three stores, so this award is half hers."
"Through my children, too, I've learnt the art of
patience and perseverance, and it's a real pleasure having my sons
working with me now."
Witehira insists, however, that this win isn't just
his and his whānau's to celebrate.
"There are many great people out there that are
successful in their own right without the accolades I have
Foodstuffs North Island Ltd CEO, Chris Quin, says the
company is thrilled to see one of its members honoured in such a
way. "Once again we see someone who has started their career in a
supermarket being recognised as a leader not only within our
organisation, but in the wider business community, and for New
"He really is a true inspiration to all our hard
working staff, and lives the purpose of making sure New Zealanders
get more out of Life" says Quin.
Jason with Sir Pita Sharples,
Māori academic and politician.
Jason, Cliff and Hemi all
went to school together
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