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The Supreme Winner of the Rural Women New Zealand Enterprising Rural Women Award 2010 is Tineke Verkade and her Waikato-based business Homeopathic Farm Support Ltd.
The Award was presented at a special ceremony at the Rural Women New Zealand national conference in Oamaru yesterday.
The Award recognizes an outstanding rural businesswoman running her own enterprise and celebrates the success of all rural women entrepreneurs.
Rural Women New Zealand national president Margaret Chapman said rural businesswomen often have to overcome additional geographical and technological challenges in running their businesses.
In the case of this year’s Supreme Winner she says “Tineke has over the years had to show real resilience and a determination to succeed in the face of skepticism and little belief in alternative methods of healing.”
Tineke Verkade says she is very excited about winning the Supreme Award, having been entered by her own staff.
She hopes winning the award will have an impact in increasing awareness that homeopathy can support farmers in New Zealand not only in dairy, but also dry stock, sheep and alpacas.
Tineke says the growth in the use of homeopathy is a vital tool in moving towards organic farming and increases opportunities for farmers to command a premium price for their products. She points to a growing awareness as over one-third of dairy farmers now use homeopathy.
“So many farmers are using homeopathy successfully, they might as well be organic because then they get a premium price,” says Tineke.
Tineke Verkade began her professional career in nursing, working at Waikato hospital for 17 years. In the late 1980s she began to pursue her interests in complimentary medicine, gaining diplomas in naturopathy and medical herbalism as well as homeopathy.
She set up in private practice in 1991 treating people, and then began using homeopathy with her own animals. Other farmers in the Waikato approached her for assistance in treating symptoms in their livestock, and the seeds of her new farm-focused business were planted.
Tineke has since written two books on homeopathy for dairy and alpaca farmers and has seen her business grow from a one woman operation to a business employing eight part time staff including six homeopaths. She now has a national and international distribution network, supplying more than 200 organic-certified products to farmers, as well as running seminars and helpdesk support.
Runner up in the Rural Women New Zealand Enterprising Rural Women Award 2010 was Tracey Robinson of Rotherham, Canterbury, who set up her merino sock business Cosy Toes Ltd after experiencing frustration that wool socks were not available for her two pre-schoolers. Researching the market, she discovered that inexpensive imports of synthetic socks had led to New Zealand businesses closing down and selling their machines.
She decided to reverse that trend, setting up a business in a rural township with a population of just 300, using the internet to supply a niche, high quality product using innovative marketing, including social networking sites.
Margaret Chapman says “both Tracey and Tineke are strengthening their rural communities by sourcing products and services locally and providing employment for others.”
“Rural Women New Zealand is delighted to help recognize and promote such women and to celebrate their efforts and their successes.”
Rural Women New Zealand thanks our Award sponsors, Ballance and Access, and Award judges Theresa Gattung and Doug Langford.