Rachel Taulelei (Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, Ngāti Rārua) is Chair APEC Business Advisory Council, and CEO of Kono. Kono is a Māori-owned, food and beverage company 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, Annies fruit bars and Hop Federation craft beer. 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.
Rachel is an award-winning entrepreneur and business woman. As former New Zealand Trade Commissioner to North America, founder of sustainable seafood company Yellow Brick Road, and now CEO of Kono, Māori-owned food and beverage business, Rachel is a champion for New Zealand’s primary industry and the country’s position as a world-class producer of food and beverages. She is passionate about the Māori economy, international trade, and about supporting the potential and growth of others.
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 was named Māori Woman Business Leader at the prestigious University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards, and was a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council.