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Champion of champions: Queenstown Chamber of Commerce events and marketing manager Catherine Fallon, left, with Air NZ regional manager Frank Gibbons, Susana Tamega, First Table boss Mat Weir, RealNZ CEO Stephen England-Hall, and First Table’s Harley Cawkill, Blair Impey, Ben Roberts, Jess Smith and Stuart Macdonald.  PICTURE: SHEENA HAYWOOD

By TRACEY ROXBURGH

Queenstown start-up First Table was crowned supreme business of the year at the RealNZ
Queenstown Business Awards on Saturday.

It was the first time the awards, held in conjunction with the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce, had been held since 2018.

Announced at Walter Peak, the company also won the SIT Innovation and Mountain Scene People’s Choice awards, and was a finalist in the Shotover Media Excellence in Marketing category.

Founder Mat Weir says he feels like the company’s come a long way ‘‘from when I was a one-man-band travelling around the country in a campervan’’.

‘‘Just to be recognised amongst such a list of high-calibre entrants is great.

‘‘I think it’s really cool, too, a tech company coming out on top in Queenstown, because it’s dominated by tourism companies, but we do have that aspiration to diversify, and the tech sector’s one of those ones that’s getting talked up a lot, so hopefully that’s the start of Queenstown really taking off in tech.’’

The judging panel comprised former Chamber boss Ann Lockhart, marketing specialist John Guthrie, SIT programme manager Sonali Mendis, Air New Zealand regional manager Frank Gibbons and HR specialist Jason Ennor.

The panel comment choosing the overall winner wasn’t an easy task.

They looked for a business which would have scored highly in most categories, if they could enter them all, one that was agile, responsive to changing markets and ‘‘arguably cutting edge’’, particularly in digital marketing, and ‘‘a business that is the face of Queenstown businesses, now and into the future’’.’

On cloud nine: First Table founder Mat Weir. PICTURE: SHEENA HAYWOOD

Weir’s chuffed, too, the company’s developers got recognition through the innovation award, which will ‘‘give them a big boost’’.

‘‘That’s going to help attract more tech talent not just to the company but to Queenstown in general.’’

On people’s choice, Weir says they’re ‘‘really grateful’’ for the hometown support.

Short-term plans for the company include launching a long-awaited, “game-changing” app, hopefully by year-end, and to continue expanding in the UK and Australia.

Chamber boss Ruth Stokes says the awards night was ‘‘fabulous’’, with a huge range of local businesses coming out to recognise and celebrate with the finalist.

‘‘With just a point or two being the difference between being a finalist and a winner in many
cases, we are incredibly fortunate to have so many businesses with exciting futures ahead.

RealNZ 2021 Business Award winners

Todd & Walker Law Small Business of the Year: Housemart Queenstown

Shotover Media Excellence in Marketing: Fergburger

MyHR Employer of the Year: Millbrook Resort

ANZ Excellence in Strategy and Planning: Active Adventures

SIT Innovation: First Table

Smart Environmental Sustainability: Ziptrek Ecotours

Destination Queenstown Excellence in Service Delivery: iFLY Indoor Skydiving NZ Ltd

Remarkables Park Ltd Covid Resilience and Diversification: xtravel

Mountain Scene People’s Choice: First Table

Supreme Business of the Year: First Table