Kilmarnock: from struggling charity to successful social enterprise | The Social Enterprise Magazine – Pioneers Post

Kilmarnock in New Zealand employs 80 people with intellectual disabilities, delivers commercial contracts for big businesses and is about to launch its own training academy. But just a few years ago the organisation was at breaking point. Marketing manager Islay Rackham tells its story.

When I first came to Kilmarnock I discovered a unique organisation, the likes of which I hadn’t seen before. Not entirely commercial, but not entirely social either. With a background in the social sciences and with a passion for the charitable sector, I was blown away by the organisation’s business acumen and massive growth trajectory.

I was surrounded by experienced professionals who had already had impressive careers in hotel management, manufacturing, sales and telecommunications. Previously a stoic supporter of not-for-profit, I became an instant convert to the business-for-good model. All it took was to see an organisation that was leveraging commercial excellence and strong business to not only provide a purposeful and valuable workplace for a marginalised group of people, but a movement that was changing hearts and minds and systematically breaking down societal barriers at a speed I had never experienced before. The potential was overwhelming. But even in my inexperience, I could see that Kilmarnock was entering a very progressive chapter of a long and not always uplifting journey.


A story of transition

Kilmarnock’s story is one of transition: from an enlightened idea, to a well-respected and well-known local cause, to a struggling charity and finally to becoming one of New Zealand’s leading social enterprises.

Today, we employ over 80 awesome people – most with some form of intellectual disability. We fulfil commercial manufacturing contracts for some of New Zealand’s biggest businesses including Fonterra, The Gough Group, and Air New Zealand. We have a comprehensive and holistic health and wellness programme that has empowered our team to gain more independence. Soon we will be taking our pilot to the public and launching the Kilmarnock Training Academy. Even five years ago, this growth was unimaginable.

There was a group of people who, through a lack of empathy and understanding, had been stripped of hope and opportunity

Over 60 years ago a remarkable woman identified a problem in her community. She saw inequality deeply entrenched into societal and educational systems and she knew that there was a group of people who, through a lack of empathy and understanding, had been stripped of hope and opportunity. She envisioned a world where the fundamental dignity of people with intellectual disabilities was respected and where everybody was allowed the freedom to aspire.

But Miss Christabel Robinson didn’t stop at just an idea, she created a solution. She harnessed the power of purpose and opened Kilmarnock, then The Canterbury Sheltered Workshop Association, where she used education and employment to bring new meaning to the lives of adults with disabilities.

To this day, Kilmarnock holds close the values of its founder. We acknowledge and respect the fundamental value of all individuals. As an employer, we are committed to providing a supportive, respectful, and compassionate environment for our team where they can learn, grow and reach their full potential. It is our social responsibility to promote equitable treatment and the elimination of discrimination in the wider community.


From success to breaking point

The founding vision has guided Kilmarnock towards some incredible successes and also kept our conviction strong through some very difficult times. In the beginning, the organisation was supported by many powerful patrons. Educationalists and local politicians sang Kilmarnock’s praise and the government provided considerable support and funding. Local businesses such as the Returned Veterans Association and a local shoe manufacturer outsourced small bits of work which kept the team busy and provided a tokenistic income. For many years this worked well but as the political environment changed, so did the government’s commitment to funding initiatives such as Kilmarnock.

After many years of dwindling income, an unequal dependency on government and a defensive relationship with the community, Kilmarnock hit a breaking point. In 2011, just a few days before the Christchurch earthquake that February, we got a call to say the Returned Veterans Association ANZAC Poppy contract was to be sent offshore, taking with it 30% of Kilmarnock’s revenue-generating activities.

For the last 33 years, assembling the commemorative poppies had been a great source of pride for the Kilmarnock team. They knew that every poppy worn on ANZAC day was made by them and that their contribution was appreciated. Kilmarnock’s pride was dented and we were on the precipice of financial collapse. As it turns out, this was the shake-up Kilmarnock needed.

Kilmarnock employees at work


Renewed passion and direction

Faced with defeat, Kilmarnock returned to the vision of Miss Christabel Robinson and, with renewed passion and direction, the organisation began a dramatic transformation. We started by forming four pillars: purpose, people, community and, the previously undervalued, commercial.

Kilmarnock’s purpose meant we had every reason to fight for survival. We knew that Kilmarnock was opening doors for uniquely talented people and giving them the confidence to pursue their idea of a good life.

At the time I joined, Kilmarnock was supercharging its culture and building back an organisation that valued diversity, inclusivity and creativity; abolishing the hierarchy that had built up over the years. We developed a comprehensive and holistic health and wellbeing programme that addresses fitness, nutrition, personal safety, budgeting, self-determination and empowerment. A structure was created that encourages professional development and the undertaking of responsibility. Now we have a culture that is envied by the social and commercial world alike.

We have an incredible team of people with disabilities who are perfectly capable of breaking down the stereotypes that exist about them

We’ve realised that a core component of what Kilmarnock has to offer is the changing of attitudes. We have an incredible team of people with disabilities who are perfectly capable of breaking down the stereotypes that exist about them. So we have opened our doors and invited the world in. With transparency as a core value, we have connected with schools, businesses, government and the community. Just like me, everyone who comes into contact with Kilmarnock becomes enthralled and inspired by the story.

With strong strategic direction, our commercially-experienced CEO and diverse board turned our financial situation around and we now generate over 85% of our revenue through commercial activity. We have honed in on our unique competencies and rapidly diversified our contract work to include collating and packing, labelling, food packing, e-waste recycling, woodworking, sewing, refurbishing, assembly, health and safety training and office services.

With newfound confidence in our abilities, we have sourced commercially viable contracts with well-respected national and multinational businesses on an equal footing. With certifications in quality and food safety, we win contracts on merit and have become proof that a diverse workforce holds the keys to success.


A social impact investment

With ambition and enthusiasm at an all-time high, Kilmarnock has made the bold decision to embark on the next chapter of this story. It took absolute determination and fortitude to secure the first large-scale case of social impact investment in New Zealand. As a result, Kilmarnock has moved into our brand new, fit for purpose premises that we call Basecamp and we are now beginning the journey to becoming an accredited training academy. The name ‘Basecamp’ came from the idea that Kilmarnock is a warm, safe starting point at the beginning of an ambitious journey. A place where people can prepare and become equipped before going on to achieve incredible things.

In working with the community, Kilmarnock has identified a metaphorical cliff for school leavers with intellectual disabilities. While many of their peers move on to employment, university, apprenticeships and training institutes, the same further education stepping stones aren’t available to those with disabilities in New Zealand. The Kilmarnock Academy will provide a bridge between high school and employment for school leavers with disabilities by providing hands-on, practical training, enabling those wishing to find employment to pursue their passions.

If Miss Christabel Robinson could see her little charity now, she would be overwhelmed by the incredible path it has taken. Far from dampening her vision, the adoption of a social enterprise model has amplified the social impact of the organisation, enabling greater opportunity, inclusion and personal and professional growth for people with an intellectual disability in New Zealand.

I know that despite the overwhelming transformation and growth experienced over the past 60 years, this is just the beginning for Kilmarnock.

Michelle Sharp, Kilmarnock, and employees

Kilmarnock’s CEO, Michelle Sharp (pictured left, centre, with Kilmarnock employees), will be speaking at the Social Enterprise World Forum 2017, which will be held in New Zealand on 27-29 September. For more details, see Pioneers Post is a media partner to the event.

Source: Kilmarnock: from struggling charity to successful social enterprise | The Social Enterprise Magazine – Pioneers Post

International business gurus tap into global network to support Kiwi social enterprises |

International business experts have jumped on board with Christchurch-based social enterprises to boost productivity and reach those in need.

Ethique founder Brianne West (second right) with her mother and SAP mentors Echo Zeng (far left), Mark Goodall, and James Lowe (far right).

 No one wants to be told how to do their job, but four Christchurch business owners jumped at the chance to let someone else take the reins.

The 2017 SAP Social Sabbatical had 12 international and local business experts mentor the founders of Christchurch-based social enterprises: Ethique​, Kilmarnock Enterprises, Science Alive, and Cultivate.

SAP, based in Germany, was a technology company providing software solutions for thousands of organisations around the world.

Brianne West said the business advice she received was invaluable.


Brianne West said the business advice she received was invaluable.

 Employees were experts in sales, finance, product and marketing, and provided pro bono advice to help the social enterprises overcome challenges and broaden their social impact.

SAP Australia New Zealand head of corporate affairs Perry Manross said the mentors became so invested in the enterprises they called contacts from around the world to help out.

Brianne West's Ethique shampoo bars are 100 per cent vegan and last much longer than what you can buy from a bottle.


Brianne West’s Ethique shampoo bars are 100 per cent vegan and last much longer than what you can buy from a bottle.

 “Without exception everyone tapped to their wider network across the world – Germany, Singapore, Silicon Valley, Sydney – all these people were dialling in to provide advice to these social enterprises,” Manross said.

The enterprises were chosen out of about 40 that applied in January.

Two Australian and one Kiwi mentor helped business owner and scientist Brianne West’.

Christchurch co-founders Fiona Stewart and Bailey Perryman started Cultivate to support the community by providing work ...


Christchurch co-founders Fiona Stewart and Bailey Perryman started Cultivate to support the community by providing work experience and teaching skills to young people in need in Canterbury.

 West discovered a way to make solid shampoos while studying at The University of Canterbury in her 20s.

Almost ten years on, her company Ethique was internationally recognised and made cruelty-free, environmentally friendly cosmetic and household products using 100 per cent vegan ingredients.

Despite her success, West hit a road block most businesses hope to one day run into: keeping up with burgeoning demand.

“The challenge we are experiencing is how on earth do we keep up with the demand we are forecasting, which is pretty significant,” she said.

“We’re expecting 25 million [orders] by 2022. It would be amazing if we can do it.”

Quality assurance was the main issue West worried about.

“Making sure we can keep up with demand for packaging. Growing is very difficult,” she said.

The mentors helped West’s team look at their manufacturing and lab processes to figure out the best way to grow the business.

“Social enterprises are so in the moment,” Manross said. “They’re resource stretched and don’t always have the capacity to take a step back and say hang on maybe we should do it this way or that way.”

“So many social enterprises are at a cross roads and what they decide now could shape what they look like 5-20 years from now.”

West valued the opportunity to take a step back.

“It’s been incredible. I was unsure to start with because having new people around can be quite disruptive, but they’ve been very good and positive, it’s been really exciting,” she said.

Every year, SAP employees were eager to be involved in the sabbatical to bring back passion and drive to the company.

Manross was always surprised at the amount of interest in the program.

“Some people have been supported by a social enterprise or charity hybrid in their lives. There are certain causes our people identify strongly with.”


 – Stuff

Source: International business gurus tap into global network to support Kiwi social enterprises |

Supporting social enterprise | Nine To Noon, 9:32 am on 12 October 2016 | RNZ

It’s been announced the World Social Enterprise Forum will be held in Christchurch next year and local business are keen to capitalise. Last night, the Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Jo Goodhew presented a report on how to grow the social enterprise sector – which uses commercial strategies to achieve social benefits. Two of the people who helped write that report are Michelle Sharp from Kilmarnock Enterprises and Alex Hannant from the Akina Foundation.

Source: Supporting social enterprise | Nine To Noon, 9:32 am on 12 October 2016 | RNZ

Kilmarnock Enterprises | Inclusive NZ

Ghandi’s famous quote: Be the change you want to see in the world, quite aptly describes how Social Enterprise Kilmarnock Enterprises chooses to operate.

Focused on projecting positive attitudes about disability and helping smooth the transition into work for school leavers with disabilities, CEO Michelle Sharp strongly believes that to achieve the organisation’s objectives, projecting the changes they want to see, through their work is imperative.

“For us, it isn’t enough to just say that we would like to see attitudes change towards people with disabilities, we need others to know in the community that we really believe what we are saying, and the best way to do this is to live and breathe it ourselves, so it is reflected in the support, training and employment opportunities we provide for those we work alongside.”

Measures in which Kilmarnock can gain validation for committing to this positive ethos have come in the form of coveted awards for example; being named Charity of the Year by the Canterbury Champion Business Awards 2015. Seeing as the award celebrates excellence, innovation and success, naturally Kilmarnock were absolutely delighted and honoured with the win, with the primary reason being that it showed “they were heading in the right direction”.

A further accolade that helps strengthen this belief is its ACC Workplace Safety Award it received in 2014. “Once again it was nice to be acknowledged, as for us adhering to health and safety practices isn’t just about ticking the boxes, we are genuinely dedicated to insuring that everyone that works with us is safe and strife to be a top employer. Never has this been more important, as we continue to secure more business contracts that require increasingly complex and robust safety practices,” Michelle says.

Keeping things in a healthy state is also reflected in the workplace activities Kimarnock offers to their staff which include; a weekly Zumba Class and chances to participate in fun runs/walks/events which are always very much about fostering team spirit. In fact, Kilmarnock are such strong advocates for a healthy lifestyle, last year’s Christmas present was a pair of professionally fitted sports shoes from the Shoe Clinic for all staff and those they work alongside.

“It’s all about healthy body, healthy mind and engaging in this stuff is also really fun, with the added bonus of team building. After all, we see it as part of our job to provide the very best working environment for the people we work alongside, so they in turn can continue to grow, learn new skills and make meaningful contributions to the communities they live in,” Michelle says.

Source: Kilmarnock Enterprises | Inclusive NZ

Nicola Young: Volunteers are more deserving – NZ Herald

SUNNY BILL: All Black Sonny Bill Williams with daughter Imaan at Auckland International Airport on Wednesday morning. PHOTO/GREG BOWKER

Arise, Sir Richie McCaw. Are these words coming for our Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks captain?

Sacrilege perhaps, but I don’t really care. Actually, I’m not sure McCaw is enjoying the continued questions around whether he’ll take the title if – or rather when – it’s offered to him again either. Okay, I admit to getting up early last Sunday morning to watch the final and may have yelled at the screen in accidental enthusiasm, but it’s just sports I can’t say it’s just a game, because it’s a profession these days and a well paid one at that.

I’m no fan of our reintroduced old-fashioned honours system, so find the use of sir and dame in New Zealand odd, but I’m also not a fan of our sporting heroes getting a gong for playing well – they’re already well recompensed for that.

Yes they train incredibly hard and yes I’m happy for Dan Carter getting Man of the Match after missing out playing the previous two World Cups – he had an outstanding game and silenced his critics (there must be a few embarrassed faces among those who thought he should have been dropped).

The local heroes I rate and would love to see getting a bigger share of the limelight are the community leaders who volunteer their time or choose lower-paid careers to help people. Now some of them do get honoured each year – their projects win awards and they get featured on One News’ Good Sorts series – but there’s no shortage of people who make lifelong commitments to the community sector who stay under the radar.

This week I visited Christchurch for work and met some people doing amazing things in their community. Project Lyttelton is a grassroots organisation committed to building a sustainable, connected community. Their projects include NZ’s first time bank, a farmer’s market, a range of festivals, a library and other initiatives. For our visit, they also hosted reps from other community groups who are exploring an alliance together to strengthen their impact across youth work and mentoring, helping people rebuild lives after domestic violence and supporting people with disabilities into the workforce through a social enterprise. Next stop was Kilmarnock Enterprises. It may be NZ’s first “modern” social enterprise, starting more than 55 years ago. Today Kilmarnock employs more than 80 people, most with intellectual disabilities, and delivers all sorts of contracts like packaging food, cleaning plastic containers for reuse and deconstructing electronics for recycling. They also produce iconic wooden toys and bespoke furniture.

There is more to NZ than rugby and I felt honoured to meet some of the Christchurch people leading the way. However, if NZ is going to hand out titles to rugby players, I nominate Sonny Bill Williams for his gifting of his World Cup medal to a child. I read a brilliant and hilarious column by Stuart Heritage at about it. As Heritage points out, SBW has raised the bar for every person who wins an award – the headline said his “thoughtless act of generosity has ruined sport for ever”.

Heritage wrote: “Time was you could just get drunk and lose the award in a taxi on the way home, but Williams’ unforgivable decency has taken care of that. He should be ashamed of himself, the big, kind sod.” The column is worth a read – it’s a great comedic piece about selflessness, and yes, it is tongue-in-cheek. For a more heartfelt local version, check out Polly Gillespie’s reflections on SBW in the NZ Herald. Now our extended rugby season is over, there might be a few extra column centimetres spare for us to read more stories about people making a difference.

-Nicola Young has worked in the government and private sectors in Australia and NZ and now works from home in Taranaki for a national charitable foundation. Educated at Wanganui Girls’ College, she has a science degree and is the mother of two boys.

Source: Nicola Young: Volunteers are more deserving – NZ Herald

Champion Canterbury businesses named top performers |

Two Canterbury businesses recognised as Champion Canterbury supreme award winners.

The work by Central Plains Water and its contractors on stage one of the scheme has been recognised with a Champion ...

The work by Central Plains Water and its contractors on stage one of the scheme has been recognised with a Champion Canterbury award. The canal has since been filled with water.

Two of Canterbury’s top businesses hail from the energy efficiency and water infrastructure sectors in this years’ Champion Canterbury Business Awards.

The region’s top business gongs on Wednesday went to Solar Bright and irrigator Central Plains Water (CPW) as supreme winners.

Solar Bright, a solar lighting company, was named as supreme in the small enterprise spot and CPW in the medium to large category.

The Champion Canterbury Business Awards 2015 attracted a record 196 entries, 21 per cent more than the previous record year of 2012. A sell-out crowd of 1330 people was due to attend last night’s event at Horncastle Arena.

Those entries were whittled down to 51 finalists in the awards that showcase the region’s business successes.

In their 13th year, the awards are run by a subsidiary of the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and judged by a panel of about 30 people from the business community. Prime Minister John Key was on hand to help present the top gongs.

Leeann Watson, a director of Champion Canterbury, said there had been depth and breadth of talent shown across a range of business sectors. “The awards have been a showcase for business innovation in all its forms.”

Export business Solar Bright was listed by judges as designing and manufacturing sustainable, energy-efficient lights. The products are designed to be cost effective, safe and enhance the lifestyle of users.

Last year Solar Bright won a significant contract from the World Bank to supply 250 solar street lights to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati. It has also launched a light emitting diode (LED) system for business applications.

The company’s start in Christchurch dates back to 2006 and an initial focus on solar-powered LED streetlights, now used in different New Zealand locations.

Both Solar Bright and Central Plains Water, which is backed by farmers and corporates, won multiple awards.

Backers of the CPW irrigation scheme have already opened stage one of what one day could be a $375 million Canterbury plains project. They are now moving towards a second stage, preparing designs and seeking shareholder funding.

In the initial stage CPW moved 3.5 million cubic metres of material, laid 130 kilometres of small piping, plus some extra man-sized pipes, installed 50 pumps and more than 100 farm connections. It amounted to more than $130m of construction in less than 12 months.

The plan echoes the Government’s desire for more New Zealand irrigation to drive agricultural production. The Government has provided grants and loans to CPW.

This year’s Champion Canterbury saw a special commendation award to Anthony Leighs, the founder and managing director of Leighs Construction, for his contribution to the region.

Leighs played a key role after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes in building stabilisation and innovation work. He has been involved in the construction of a number of Christchurch’s post-earthquake buildings.

In 2014 the commercial builder signalled he wanted to build a significant Auckland operation, planning to attract new staff and look for work opportunities.

The family trust-owned Leighs Construction has been in business for about 20 years. It has revenue of about of $150 million, according to a 2014 estimate.

“Anthony’s … ability to look ahead and position his business to weather challenges and take advantage of new opportunities is second to none,” Watson said.

“He’s a driving force for the development of his sector nationwide.”

The role the region’s charities play in creating and maintaining a healthy community was acknowledged with Camp Quality winning the charity award for a small enterprise.

Kilmarnock Enterprises, a finalist in the 2014 charity award for a medium/large enterprise, returned to win the award in 2015.

Kaiapoi based Men at Work, a first time entrant, won the ACC workplace safety award, recognising their workplace safety systems and procedures.

Watson said the more recent growth of the awards programme was pleasing.

“It’s a good reflection of the positivity and confidence we are seeing across the business sector,” Watson said.


Champion Supreme Award

– Solar Bright, small category.

– Central Plains Water, medium-large category.

Champion Producer/ Manufacturer

– ARANZ Medical, medium-large.

– Solar Bright, small.

Champion Infrastructure/Trades

– Mr Box, small.

– Central Plains Water, medium-large.

Champion Retail/Hospitality

– Traiteur of Merivale, small.

– Addington Raceway & Events Centre, medium-large.

Champion Professional Service

– BVT Engineering, small.

– Computer Concepts, medium-large.

Champion Tourism

– Akaroa Dolphins, small.

– Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa, medium-large.

Champion Global Operator

– Pacific Simulators, small.

– ARANZ Geo, medium-large.

CDC Innovation award

– Solar Bright, small.

ACC Workplace Safety

– Men at Work, small.

Champion Charity

– Camp Quality Christchurch, small.

– Kilmarnock Enterprises, medium-large

Special Commendation

– Anthony Leighs of Leighs Construction.

 – Stuff

Source: Champion Canterbury businesses named top performers |

Earthquake art from Christchurch auctioned |

Creatives have turned much of a Christchurch quake house into beautiful and useful objects.Porutu by Brian Flintoff. The porutu is a flute from the family of Raukatauri (Maori goddess of music) and is similar ...

Christopher Gardner

Porutu by Brian Flintoff. The porutu is a flute from the family of Raukatauri (Maori goddess of music) and is similar but longer than a koauau. It can be overblown, lifting its pitch and giving it a second register.

It was an audacious and perhaps batty idea: Take a red-zoned home from Christchurch’s eastern suburbs and turn the entire thing into useful –  and in most cases –  beautiful objects. Entire meant entire. Everything would be reused: the wall paper, the electrical wiring, the rimu floorboards, the plaster and lathe, the bathroom sink. Everything. 

That was almost two years ago and on Monday week 114 of the useful objects – many of them indeed beautiful –  will be auctioned to the general public. Proceeds go to the creatives and Kilmarnock Enterprises, a manufacturer that employs about 70 people with intellectual disabilities.

The project, known as Whole House Reuse (WHR), has been on show at Canterbury Museum since early June. It was the brainchild of Juliet Arnott and Kate McIntyre and a stepchild of Rekindle, a social enterprise founded by Arnott that is best known for recycling wood from vacated earthquake houses into tables, chairs and artworks.

Creative Tim McGurk contributed many pieces to Whole House Reuse Charity Auction.

Whereas Rekindle used a tiny percentage of the materials available from quake houses, WHR set out to use everything from one house. It turned out to be a step too far. Unexpectedly, asbestos was found and the tainted materials had to be disposed of appropriately. And it turned out that some materials simply didn’t inspire somebody creative.

Still, 398 objects were created from the materials of 19 Admirals Way, New Brighton. It was a 1920s, three bedroom bungalow and in many respects unremarkable. That was part of Arnott and McIntyre’s point: It was an “everyman’s home”, said McIntyre, just like the many thousands of Canterbury homes that have been demolished because of quake damage and are now mere memories and landfill burden.

By reusing one entire house, WHR could pay homage to those lost homes and make the point that contemporary disposal methods are flawed. An entire house –  or much of it anyway –  could be reused.

Lath Dining Chair by Tim McGurk and Trudo Wylaars. 

Perhaps the classic example is a set of dinning chairs by Tim McGurk and Trudo Wylaars, who shaped lath wood into seats. Lath and plaster were widely used to finish building interiors before the advent of gib board. Laths were the narrow strips of wood onto which plaster was trowelled. Lath held the plaster in place.

Deconstructing lath for reuse in fine furniture was a tedious business, Arnott says, but the results are immensely sturdy and eye-catching seats. They are the “only chairs like this in the world”, Arnott says.

Oh, somebody somewhere might have built chairs from lath, but not lath from quake-condemned 19 Admirals Way. It’s this New Zealand backstory that imbues the objects with such interest, says Canterbury Museum exhibitions manager Neil Phillips.

It’s also why the museum exhibited WHR, he says.  “A lot of the pieces are about honouring the house,” he says. The project’s intention and results were museum quality, he agrees.

Which is why the museum intends to buy three items from the show for its permanent collection. One is a lath coffee table by McGurk. It features a striking ridgeline that projects out of the top of the table. The ridge could be a mountain range, breaking waves or an earthquake fault.

Frame Chair by Mike Hindmarsh, a fine furniture maker from the Nelson area.

More conventional but undoubtedly beautiful is “Frame Chair” by Mike Hindmarsh, a fine furniture maker from the Nelson area. The low single seat is a “place to relax and unwind” according to the auction catalogue.

Made from highly finished rimu in from the “body-contact areas” — seat and back — and raw unfinished timber for the legs and frame, the entire chair is a “tribute to the material’s original purpose”. It’s an “especially fine piece of furniture”, says Arnott.

Manufacturing dining tables from rimu studs was an obvious solution to the WHR challenge and two of New Zealand’s finest wood craftsmen — David Haig and Hamish Southcott — each built tables of exceptional quality, Arnott says.

Haig is perhaps best known for his signature rocking chair. When studying the studs from 19 Admirals Way, he noticed the lathe and plaster had left a “ghostly ladder-pattern” imprinted in the wood. Rather than plane away all of that pattern, he incorporated some into the table.

The result is a table clearly made of recycled wood — and a beautiful object — but with patterns that “maintain a connection with the wood’s source”, according to the catalogue.

Tim McGurk’s lath coffee table features a conversation-starting ridgeline.

Southcott’s table is likewise a large and fine recycled timber object, but his “Role Reversal Lamps” caught the eye of many museum staff and outside creatives, says the museum’s Neil Phillips. The lamps are role reversed because concrete piles from the house are no longer supporting something (the house), but are now themselves supported by something (rimu frames from the house).

Role Reversal Lamps by Hamish Southcott caught the eye of many museum staff. 

Holes large enough for small LED light fixtures have been gouged out of the base of the piles and the power cords cleverly hidden. “No-one has thought to put lights in a concrete pile before,” says Arnott. Three of Southcott’s four lamps will be sold at the auction.

Sculptor Hannah Kidd is known for her lifesized animals made from welded metal, For WHR, she made necklaces from “conduit”, the metal tubes that carried electrical wiring behind walls and under floors. It is a most utilitarian material from which to create “high fashion” necklaces, but that was her point: “to make something unexpected and, at first glance, unrecognisable from the materials selected”.

Glass works by Frances Woodhead. 

The creative brief was that the final objects had to be useful, says Arnott, and designers seemed to find usefulness in different ways. “Some looked at a bath and made a bath,” says Phillips. Others wanted to make an object — say an easel — and went looking for materials in the WHR collection that could make an easel.

The items being auctioned aren’t all large and likely to be expensive. Also going under the (silent) hammer will be rimu pens and chopsticks, totara serving spoons, and wooden toy cars shaped by Kilmarnock Enterprises. It’s a “contract manufacturer that proves how capable people are who have a disability,” says marketing co-ordinator Islay Rackham.

WHR and Kilmarnock will develop a new collaboration after the auction, Arnott says. Auction proceeds and Creative NZ funding will be used by designers who can identify waste streams in New Zealand, create a product for Kilmarnock to manufacture and on-sell for profit.

The house at 19 Admirals Way, New Brighton, Christchurch, before demolition.

An example might come from WHR itself. Russel Frost, once from Tasman region and now of East London, made an alphabet from wood blocks, each with a letter carved onto them. Wood blocks were once used by the printing industry, even if metal was more durable and popular.

Frost’s collection of WHR type blocks will be live auctioned as a set but he’s also hand printed limited edition posters, which will be sold in the silent portion of the charity auction.

These posters celebrate the kowaro or Canterbury mudfish, an example of which Frost carved onto a wood block. He saw in the the little-known and threatened mudfish a “metaphor for the resilience of a population which is also in need of help”.

* Whole House Reuse Charitable Auction will feature silent and live bidding. Monday August 24, Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch. Tickets: $25 from Doors open 5.30pm, auction begins 6.30pm. Phone bidding may be possible. Contact: 

 – Stuff

Source: Earthquake art from Christchurch auctioned |

Canterbury disability employer is a health and safety winner | Hon Nicky Wagner | MP for Christchurch Central

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I was delighted to see Kilmarnock recognized again for the great work they do. Kilmarnock Enterprises has surpassed expectations and added the ACC Workplace Safety Award to their list of accomplishments. Health and safety has always been a top priority for the disability employment provider and their efforts have been rewarded at the recent Champion Canterbury Business awards.

I caught up with the Kilmarnock team at The Press Summer Starter over the weekend.

Kilmarnock’s health and safety practices range from quirky yellow pool noodle hazard markers, to robust and extensive health and safety protocols, to hazard identification for all new contracts, and proactive rehabilitation for employees, as well as a comprehensive health and wellbeing programme and incident reporting.

Social enterprises and charities are rarely nominated in the business section of the awards and the Kilmarnock team are very pleased.

“We are exceptionally proud of this award” CEO Michelle Sharp says “It was so humbling to be counted among such incredible businesses and to have our efforts recognised.”

Stringent business practices, HACCP food safety systems, and ISO9001 accreditations have positioned Kilmarnock as a key player in the service industry. Gone are the days of assembling ANZAC poppies, they now hold a number of significant contracts including food packing for Murdoch’s Manufacturing and assembling test kits for the Gough Group.

Kilmarnock provides a range of services including assembly work, collation of goods, food repacking, shrink- wrapping, carpentry, and electronic waste recycling but Sharp says it is their adaptability and willingness to collaborate that sets them apart from other service providers.

Sharp discusses the impact of these business successes on the Kilmarnock team. “Success within the business sector gives our employees such a sense of pride; knowing these commercially focussed organisations value the quality of work our team delivers makes them realise that they can participate in society in the same way that anyone else can.”

Health and safety is a top priority for Kilmarnock now more than ever. “As we introduce more industrial contracts, the potential hazards increase and as a result, our safety systems become more robust and developed” says Sharp. She anticipates next year’s entry will be even more impressive.

Kilmarnock Enterprises is quickly becoming a commercial force to reckoned with, all whilst remaining true to their core purpose, to provide supportive and fulfilling employment to people with disabilities.

Kilmarnock Enterprises

Everyday people with disabilities struggle to find meaningful work, social inclusion, and the tools they need to succeed. They are so often undervalued, disadvantaged, and excluded by the wider community. Kilmarnock Enterprises is changing all that by helping people with disabilities develop lifelong skills and friendships in a work environment.

Kilmarnock is a place where people with disabilities can go to learn, grow, and develop in a supportive and enriching environment that gives them the skills, confidence and knowledge to participate in their community and carve their own path.

Source: Canterbury disability employer is a health and safety winner | Hon Nicky Wagner | MP for Christchurch Central

Quality work wins contracts |

A Christchurch-based social enterprise that employs people with disabilities has won a new contract.

17:00, Aug 05 2014

HARD WORK: Kilmarnock Enterprises workers, Robert Gardiner, left, Graeme Wells , David Graham, Juliette Ward, and Todd Quested, assemble Gough Analytical test kits.

Thousands of Kiwis sit on, use, wear and eat products staff at Kilmarnock Enterprises make, clean and package – likely without knowing the employer exists.

Yet Christchurch-based Kilmarnock’s clients are all around us.

They include Dux Dine and Baretta (staff made some of the restaurants’ wooden furniture), Air New Zealand (staff clean the headphones provided on international flights), Rekindle (staff make some of its wooden necklaces) and Murdoch Manufacturing (staff package a variety of foods).

The non-profit charity, which employs about 70 people with disabilities – primarily intellectual, has won a contract with the Gough Group to assemble and distribute 100,000 fluid-testing kits a year.

Gough chief executive Karl Smith says the company was impressed with the Riccarton Rd employer’s “strong philosophy and culture around quality control”.

When The Press visits Kilmarnock, workers are closely following test kit “recipes”, which detail how to assemble 50 different variations.

Todd Quested, who has worked at Kilmarnock for 28 years, says he has developed a “knack” for the job.

The 45-year-old works while he talks.

The alternative to working at Kilmarnock, he says, is boredom.

“I would be sitting at home watching TV . . . or something like that,” he says.

“It is a job – something to do.”

Kilmarnock is not the only social enterprise in New Zealand that provides work opportunities for people with disabilities.

Its critics say paying staff at a lower minimum wage rate, which is legal under the Minimum Wage Act 1983, is “slave labour” and a breach of human rights.

Kilmarnock chief executive Michelle Sharp says while the minimum wage exception permit is “controversial”, the alternative for many is no work at all.

“The [current] system was put in place in 2007. There was a change in legislation. Sheltered workshops were going to close and 3000 people were going to lose their jobs,” Sharp says.

“We are open to a new way of working . . . so long as it does not disadvantage the people that work within this system,” she says.

Sharp came to Kilmarnock with “a purely commercial background” and says its aim is to “up the game – in a commercial sense” so it can become a self-sustaining business.

Its annual turnover is about $2.6 million, and while 85 per cent of that is self-generated, the company still relies on ever-tenuous government funding.

Kilmarnock is also providing training and development for staff to prepare them for mainstream employment and is becoming “friendly” with potential recruiters.

“Historically, people have come to places like Kilmarnock and retired here. We must not hold our employees back,” Sharp says.

Back in the test kit workshop, Quested and his colleagues are working in quiet concentration.

Daniel Forman is coiling clear plastic hoses, used to siphon fluids into test kits, into small loops.

Forman, who has Down syndrome, grabs them out of a box and, once coiled, places them into plastic bags.

“I have been working here for about six years,” he says. “We have fun. We are always having each other on.”

Bruce Holland is doing the same job as Forman and chuckles when Sharp has a go and battles with a wayward loop.

“It is tricky,” says Forman.

The 30-year-old says he enjoys his job, but just like many others, including those in mainstream employment, he dreams of an “early retirement”.

“I will be retiring – very soon,” he says, with a twinkle in his eye.

He grabs another pipe from the box.

– The Press

Source: Quality work wins contracts |

Disability employer wins new contract | 1 News

It’s onwards and upwards for disability employer Kilmarnock Enterprises.

 Disability employer gets new contract

It’s onwards and upwards for disability employer Kilmarnock Enterprises, who recently discovered they won’t be part of New Zealand’s poppy making process.


The Christchurch-based company recently discovered it won’t be a part of New Zealand’s poppy-making process, even though that contract had returned to our shores.

But now Kilmarnock has announced it’s won a contract to assemble 100,000 oil test kits for the Gough Group.

The majority of the company’s 85 workers have a disability and Kilmarnock’s chief executive Michelle Sharp says making up the kits is “very labour intensive and therefore perfect for the type of work we can do”.

Source: Disability employer wins new contract

Source: 1 NEWS

Disability-friendly company wins big contract |

02:58, Jul 30 2014
Christchurch business employing disabled workers nets substantial contract with Gough Group.
Karl Smith
NEW CLIENT: Gough Group chief executive Karl Smith said Kilmarnock’s work would be ”crucial” in allowing speedy oil sample analysis.

A Christchurch business ”trying to change society, bit by bit” has won a substantial contract with the Gough Group to assemble test kits for oils, coolants, fuels and greases.

The news has given Kilmarnock Enterprises a boost after it lost a major contract with the Returned Services’ Association (RSA) to make Anzac Day poppies a couple of years ago.

The non-profit charity employs 85 people and more than 80 per cent of its staff have a disability of some kind – primarily intellectual.

The business provides services including assembly work, collation of goods, food repacking, shrink- wrapping, carpentry and electronic waste recycling.

Its newest client is Gough Group’s Christchurch-based fluid analysis business – Gough Analytical.

Kilmarnock has won a contract to assemble and distribute 100,000 fluid-testing kits a year.

Chief executive Michelle Sharp said the labour-intensive work was a perfect fit for Kilmarnock employees.

”More and more over time, with greater use of machinery, there is less that our employees can do. For a lot of things, we are competing with China or we are competing with a machine,” Sharp said.

Gough Group chief executive Karl Smith said Kilmarnock’s work would be ”crucial” in allowing speedy and timely oil sample analysis for its widespread customer base.

Gough Analytical carries out 2.5 million tests a year on oils, coolants, fuels and greases at its Christchurch laboratory for clients across New Zealand, Tahiti, Samoa and Fiji.

The lab can detect any oil contamination in machines and prescribe what is required to ensure that large fleets of equipment are performing to their optimum.

Ian Pendle, the manager of Gough Analytical’s fluid analysis centre, said assembling test kits in-house had become increasingly inefficient.

”When I was managing a lab in the United Kingdom, I worked with an organisation very similar to Kilmarnock. The detail and the quality of the work at places like Kilmarnock can often be better than other companies can provide,” Pendle said.

The Press

Source: Disability-friendly company wins big contract |