Air New Zealand flies away at Sustainable Business Network Awards

Air New Zealand does far more than make entertaining inflight safety videos – and its win at the 2016 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards proves it.

Aotearoa’s largest airline was named the overall Supreme winner of the awards at a glamorous black-tie event at Shed 10 on Auckland’s waterfront on Thursday.

Sustainable Business Network (SBN) chief executive Rachel Brown said that over the past year there had been a significant upswing in the number of businesses taking a systematically sustainable approach. “Air New Zealand’s very public commitment has had a big impact on the speed and uptake of sustainability from business,” she said. “As one of the nation’s biggest burners of carbon, it is setting a fantastic example of how it is possible to set big aspirations to operate in a sustainable manner. It has called on an internationally-renowned group of experts to push it on its strategy and delivery. The scale of the challenge is huge but it is determined to succeed.”


Judges said the company had demonstrated true corporate leadership in sustainability since launching its Sustainability Framework a year ago. The framework sets out social, environmental and environmental goals, priorities and targets for six areas: Our Communities, Our People, Carbon, Nature and Science, Tourism, and Trade and Enterprise.  

Action items included transitioning its existing fleet of cars to electric vehicles (EVs), saving 65,000 litres in fuel each year. The judges said they were impressed that Air New Zealand did not wait for a pending announcement on a government subsidy for EVs, but instead forged ahead with its plans. Furthermore, the company challenged other New Zealand corporates to follow suit, which stimulated CEO-level sustainability conversations throughout the country.  

Air New Zealand recently formed an alliance with Mercury, supported by Westpac, to launch an initiative to encourage the uptake of EVs in corporate fleets in New Zealand. So far, more than 30 organisations have pledged to transition at least 30 percent of their corporate fleets to electric in the next three years. This total private sector commitment of more than 1,450 vehicles will increase the number of EVs on New Zealand roads by more than 75 percent. Along with the significantly lower running costs of electricity, this could remove almost three million kilograms of carbon emissions annually. 


This year’s NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards also recognised the sustainability efforts of 22 other organisations and leaders. Travis Atkinson, NZI executive general manager and principal partner of the Sustainable Business Network, said: “As an organisation that provides business insurance for a growing New Zealand, being sustainable is at the heart of the way we do business, so we salute the SBN for helping New Zealand businesses change the way they think and reshape how profit is made.” 



The NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards, which are now in their 14th year, celebrate the contribution organisations and individuals are making to transforming New Zealand to a more sustainable nation. They focus on four transformation areas that are key to the future direction of sustainability in New Zealand: Renewables, Community, Mega efficiency and Restorative. The supreme award is awarded to a business that has performed outstandingly well in all aspects of sustainability. 


NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards winners

Sustainability Champion 


Winner – Barry Coates, Green Party, formerly Oxfam and The University of Auckland 
Commendation – Gareth Morgan, The Morgan Foundation  

Cadence Communications Communicating Sustainability 


Winner – Better NZ Trust 

EcoPro Cleaning Co Community Innovation 


Winner – Ecotricity 


Commendation  – Kiwibank Banqer  

Commendation – Little Yellow Bird  

Airbnb Community Impact 


Winner – Sustainability Trust  

Commendation – Good Neighbour Trust  

Ricoh Mega Efficiency Innovation 


Winner – Ecotricity 

Commendation  – Energy and Technical Services 

Commendation – Method Recycling 

Auckland Council Mega Efficiency Impact 


Winner – Kiwi Experience 


Commendation – Fulton Hogan/Tauranga Airport Authority  

Renewables Innovation 


Winner – NZ Bus  


Commendation – Scion  


Commendation – Flick  

Renewables Impact 


Winner – Air New Zealand 


Commendation – ChargeNet 

Yealands Family Wines Restorative Innovation 


Winner – Ekos  

Commendation – Junk Run 

Restorative Impact 

Winner – Ceres Organics 


Commendation – We Compost  

Commendation – Zing Bokashi 

EECA Business Energy Management 

Winner – NZ Bus  

Commendation – Fonterra Edendale site  

NZI Greatest Contribution to a Sustainable New Zealand 

Winner – Air New Zealand 

Commendation – Ceres Organics