Rachel Taulelei (Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, Ngāti Rārua) is CEO of Kono NZ. Kono is a Māori-owned, top 100 New Zealand food and beverage company employing over 450 staff, farming more than 1000ha of land and sea, and exporting to over 25 countries. Their brands include Tohu, Kono and Aronui wines, Tutū cider, Kono mussels, Kiwa oysters, and Annies fruit bars. Kono also grows apples, pears, kiwifruit and hops, and is involved in sustainable seafood through its business Yellow Brick Road.
Kono is an associated business of Wakatū Incorporation. Based in Nelson, Wakatū has over 4,000 shareholder families who descend from the original Māori land owners of the Nelson, Tasman and Golden Bay regions located within Te Tau Ihu, the top of the South Island.
Founder of sustainable seafood company Yellow Brick Road, Rachel was formerly NZ Trade Commissioner in Los Angeles. She is a fierce advocate of New Zealand’s primary industry and has spent 20 years promoting Aotearoa as a world-class producer of food and beverages.
Rachel has received the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award and is a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to food and hospitality. In 2018, Rachel was named Māori Woman Business Leader at the prestigious University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards, and she presently sits on the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council.
Her governance experience includes Moana NZ, Wellington Regional Stadium Trust, New Zealand Wine Growers, Aquaculture New Zealand, the Young Enterprise Trust, and Sir Peter Blake Trust.