Rachel Taulelei, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, Ngāti Rārua—LLB 1998

Rachel Taulelei is a prominent business leader, particularly in the food and beverage sector, and a strong advocate for the Māori economy and sustainability.

Portrait of distinguished alumna Rachel Taulelei wearing a dark suit jacket.
Rachel Taulelei is a prominent business leader, particularly in the food and beverage sector, and a strong advocate for the Māori economy and sustainability.

After graduating from Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington with a Bachelor of Laws, Ms Taulelei joined New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, eventually becoming New Zealand trade commissioner in Los Angeles.

In 2006, she founded sustainable seafood company Yellow Brick Road Ltd, developing an innovative, provenance-based supply of fresh, responsibly caught premium seafood to hundreds of establishments across the country. She has taken this demonstrable commitment to kaitiakitanga into her current role as chief executive officer of Kono, a Māori-owned food and beverage company, and it will be a cornerstone value as she builds her start-up business design and brand strategy firm Oho.

She has established herself as a leader in business, with particular expertise in primary industries, and has spent 20 years promoting Aotearoa as a world-class producer of food and beverages.

She received a Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award in 2012, was honoured as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the food and hospitality industry in 2015 and, in 2017, was awarded a Prime Minister’s Business Scholarship. In 2018, Ms Taulelei was named Māori Woman Business Leader at the prestigious University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards and, in 2019, was the recipient of a Kea World Class New Zealand Award.

Ms Taulelei was a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council from 2018 to 2020 and, in 2019, was appointed to represent New Zealand on the Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council (ABAC). She is the ABAC chairperson for New Zealand in 2021.

Ms Taulelei currently chairs the Wellington Regional Stadium Trust and serves on the boards of Queen Margaret College, the Warehouse Group, and the Young Enterprise Trust. She also acts as an adviser to venture capital firm Movac. Her past directorships have included Aquaculture New Zealand, Grow Wellington Ltd, Headwaters New Zealand Ltd, Moana New Zealand, New Zealand Hops, New Zealand Wine Growers, the Sir Peter Blake Trust, the Wellington Culinary Events Trust, the Westpac External Sustainable Business Panel, and craft beer company Yeastie Boys Ltd.

She is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors and a graduate of the Stanford University Executive Programme.