The Blues congratulate long-time partner and community man, Jason Witehira, for his recent recognition at the Aotearoa New Zealand Māori Business Leaders Awards.
The New World Victoria Park owner was awarded the 2016 Outstanding Māori Business Leaders Award on Friday night (13th May) in recognition of his community and Māori engagement.
Jason has been a long-time friend of the Blues, coming on board as a commercial partner for more than 10 years.
When the Blues moved to its new location at Alexandra Park at the beginning of 2016, Jason and his team at New World increased their food sponsorship to assist the Blues chefs and dietitian in providing premium nutrition for the team. He’s also entered into a business mentorship role with three players who are interested in moving into the food space post rugby.
Jason says the three reasons for his initial partnership of the team were because he loves rugby, he had the resources to do so and because he wanted to join fellow supermarket owners in focusing more on the community.
“Like any sports fan, I get frustrated when the team loses, and I get stick from my friends when a certain Waikato team win,” he explained. “But I’m a genuine Blues fan, rather than only supporting the team when they’re winning.”
The team’s values also align closely with Jason’s own. The emphasis on family, humility and facing each challenge head-on was apparent in Jason’s acceptance speech at the award night.
During the speech, Jason emphasised whanau and how he hopes the award will serve as an inspiration for other Māori men and women.
Jason has been working 32 years in the retail food industry, starting out by stacking produce at New World Edmond Road in Rotorua before moving into managerial positions and then owning his first supermarket. Jason is also chairman of the New World North Island Supermarket owners’ group.
Blues Chief Executive Michael Redman said that Jason “embodies the very values that we hold true to our organisation.”
“He’s a very generous and genuine person, and he aligns closely with our values of family and unity,” said Michael. “Everything he said in his acceptance speech is relevant to our players and to our team.”