Business Excellence at Kenakena

In 2018 Kenakena School entered in the Electra Business Kapiti-Horowhenua (BKH) Business Awards. We won Overall Business of the Year, the Large Business Excellence Award, New Thinking Achievement Award and the Employer of Choice Achievement Award. We believed we were in the ‘best shape’ we had ever been as an organization and wanted to test that belief against international business excellence criteria. When we last entered in 2002 and 2003 we were awarded the Special Commendation for Excellence Award both years. We wanted to see if we could go one better.

Employer of Choice Achievement Award

Kenakena’s Number 1 Resource is our staff.  The ability to attract, optimise and retain top talent is critical for high-performing organizations in today’s world.  The award is for businesses that can answer the question, “Why would great people want to work for you?”  At Kenakena, we have great people right across our organization.  We’re all different and we have different strengths, which we contribute to the success of our school as individuals and when working alongside each other as colleagues.

New Thinking Achievement Award

In the modern world, New Thinking is critical.  This award examined how we as an organization have developed innovative solutions.  We chose our International Student Programme as the area of our business where we have worked to provide strategies and responses in relation to a changing and rapidly developing market.  Back in 2002, a Kiwi Korean couple, Charles and Shine Kwon began working in partnership with Kenakena School to enrol long-term fee paying students from South Korea.  In 2010 we were approached by Kapiti College’s director of International Students, Steve Burt to see if Kenakena would be interested in working in an international student partnership with KC.  This involved a marketing trip to South Korea with Steve, where the principal learned from an experienced practitioner.  We have continued to work in a strong partnership with Kapiti College, particularly in China.  The other person to have a significant and positive influence in building our Chinese Short-Term International Student Market is Mrs Rose Hu.  Rose is an ex Kenakena parent who introduced us to the short-term student market in China and who has been our cultural adviser, interpreter, organizer and leader when we have marketed in China.  Our International programme, which attracts students from China, South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Chile and Switzerland brings significant income into our school for the benefit of all students.

Large Business Excellence Awards

The criteria for entering this category was based on the number of employees at Kenakena School.  The assessors looked at the following areas for measuring our success as an organization:

  1. Leadership
  2. Strategy and Planning
  3. Customer and Market Focus
  4. Information Knowledge and Performance
  5. Workforce Focus
  6. Operations: Business Systems and Process Management
  7. Business Results


When providing the answers to the focus questions under each of these areas, it was clear that there are many layers of complexity between me as our organization’s CEO and the academic, social, emotional and physical outcomes for our students, which is the sharp end of our business.  We work backwards from that to ensure we have the business structures in place to deliver high-quality outcomes for children.

Business of the Year – Overall Winner 2018

To implement successful learning programmes for your children we must have good business systems and structures in place alongside strong leadership and management throughout our organization.  We entered the BKH (Business Kapiti-Horowhenua) Electra Business Awards this year to be assessed against an international business excellence scale, so we could ascertain the strengths of our approach and the things we need to work on. We felt we were in the best shape we have been and that now would be a good time to test that. We are in the education business and we’re doing alright!