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Onehunga High School – Enterprise education in action

Onehunga High School is a decile 3 school situated on the fringe of central Auckland. The school has a reputation for being enterprising and progressive, including a separate Business School and a Building and Construction School.

Enterprise education in practice

One of the enterprise projects Onehunga High School participated in involved a year 12 catering class designing and running a coffee shop. This was part of an "Enterprise Triangle" funded by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, in which each participating school undertook an enterprise project. The aim was to provide students with an environment where they could learn by experience and develop business awareness.

A coordinator arranged workshops with topics based on marketing, budgeting and finance, and business planning. They included expert speakers and various activities. Interschool groups were formed so that students could share their expertise and experiences. This knowledge was then used by students to apply to their own projects.

Community-based mentors were brought into the school to inspire the students and provide them with a real view of business. Two of the mentors, a café owner and a hotel chef, encouraged students to visit and work in their businesses, so they could experience the industry at first hand.

Students were effective in their delivery of quality coffee during lunchtimes. They successfully designed a name and logo for the business. The name, Café Suave, was chosen after an in-class competition. The term "Suave" was deemed symbolic to the process of making coffee. The logo was also designed in class, and the students incorporated the school emblem – a boat making its way across the Manukau Harbour – into the logo. The boat was modified into a cup and saucer, symbolising both the café and the school culture.

Students discovered that running a business was not just about being able to make "good" coffee. Creating an inviting environment was paramount and they had to be innovative, given the limited space and resources available. A high level of commitment was required by the students, as well as the ability to think "outside the square". They learned to be creative, particularly in terms of branding and differentiating their product from others. They also had to be mindful of operating their business without compromising the school tuckshop.

The project helped develop partnerships between the school and local businesses. All the businesses involved have agreed to participate during the next phase of the project and have offered work experience to the students.

Students put on a showcase dinner at the end of the year to say thank you to family, friends, and business partners. This event also gave students and businesses an opportunity to share ideas for the next year.


  • Due to its success, the project continued into the following year with a new cohort of students.
  • Previous students acted as mentors and advisers.
  • More businesses were invited to take part.
  • The project was given a flexible timetable to allow greater integration between school departments, particularly catering and business.

Published on: 27 Mar 2015