Tournament of Minds

Tournament of Minds (TOM)


In keeping with Kenakena’s commitment to give all students a chance to excel in their chosen field, TOM is an excellent way to teach lateral thinking and problem solving under pressure.


Tournament of Minds is a problem-solving programme for teams of students from both primary and secondary schools. Students work together to solve a demanding, open-ended ‘long-term’ challenge over a six-week period. They have 10 minutes to present their solution to a panel of judges and audience on Tournament Day. The team also participates in an unseen ‘spontaneous’ challenge on Tournament Day.


TOM is an opportunity for students with a passion for learning and problem-solving, to demonstrate their creative skills and talents in an exciting, vibrant and public way.


The TOM programme looks beyond academic achievement and understands that the pursuit of excellence knows no boundaries.


TOM offers real-world benefits:working in teams, effective problem-solving, thinking outside the square and the use of technology are values that employers are searching for in the employee of tomorrow.


In 2013 two of our Years 7 and 8 teams won two of the four categories in the New Zealand tournament, earning them a place in the Australasian Pacific Final in Canberra. One of the teams won the overall competition in the Language and Literature Section, which was a great result. In 2017 we achieved our best result ever at a Regional Competition. One of our Year 5 and 6 teams came runner up in their Social Science division, a Year 5 and 6 team won their Language Literature division and a Year 7 and 8 team won their Engineering Mathematics division. This Year 7 and 8 team went on to win their category at the National TOM Competition resulting in a trip to Adelaide to compete in the Australasian Pacific Final. Another stunning effort earned this talented team a win at this demanding international level. This was the fourth time a NZ team has won at an APF. Kenakena School is the only school from NZ to win this twice. Each year Kenakena Tournament of Minds facilitators Janine McDonald and Tatia Downer work with a group of nominated children who then compete for places in Kenakena’s TOM teams with the aim of repeating this wonderful achievement.