44. 2007 The Stateway Challenge – with the help of friends and family

Kyle-Scott Services (KSS) had stepped up a gear and by early 2007 we had 30  staff on our books who were providing temporary support to around 25 of Rotoruas Accommodation providers including Hotels, Motels and boutique Lodges.  The great thing about the KSS model was that many of these staff had never worked before and I was able to fulfill my mission of giving them the opportunities that I had been given – not just training and employment opportunities but someone who believes in them.    During this time it was my privilege to work with the Rotorua School for Young Parents, who do a sterling job, to provide vocational training and employment opportunities for their students – one of whom became our greatest employee.

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During 2006 I had been doing some contract training for the Liquor Licencing Bureau and this had grown to the point that I was teaching at least one day per week to a packed training room – which had become way too small.   The Liquor Licencing Bureau were looking to expand into delivering Food safety programs and as well as assisting them to develop the material I was also going to be a trainer for this.   Although the seminar room was good it did not provide a “relevant” venue for providing skills based training for hospitality such as housekeeping.  We really needed to look at the structure and location of our wee business.  I had the assistance of Dianne as my payroll officer and receptionist on her days off from her “real” job with Rob & Samantha assisting with setting up the seminar room and running home when I wasn’t there – but it was hectic and cramped – we needed a plan.

After brainstorming a few ideas we liked the idea of actually running a motel and being able to utilize an onsite seminar room for theoretical classes and the motel operation for skills based training.  At this stage we looked into opportunities to manage, lease or purchase a motel and eventually settled on a lease option.   This required the sale of the house to proceed – so major de-clutter and tidy up…..really major and then the house went on the market.

By March we had sold the house, leased a motel, Rob & Dianne had resigned from their jobs and were on track to take over just after Easter weekend.  There was only one thing to do….we went on Holiday.

This was a planned holiday to Timaru to celebrate the 90th birthday of my Nana and to have a wee family reunion.  Turned out to be a big reunion and celebration with formal afternoon teas, dinners, drinking sessions, fishing and catch ups.   We managed to take a day trip to Moeraki to Mums home Marae and to meet with our Kaumatua.  The family also took time to celebrate Rob and I having married the previous year – which was an added bonus.   Sadly this was the last time I saw my Nana – but we have awesome memories.

My Nana Smith
My Nana Smith

Then it was back to reality – our new reality.

The motel we leased was the oldest and most run down motel you could ever find – but it had Location, Location, LOCATION – so our first mission was to make her look respectable from the outside and in this task we had awesome assistance from Robs parents Ken & Jean who came and gardened, painted, mowed, scrubbed and tidied…..and once the outside was done we did the inside – I have NEVER seen grime so thick in showers and on lino floors.  We washed  or replaced curtains, bedding, crockery & cutlery…and each night we soaked in the luxury of our own mineral pools then slept like babies -except for when the phones or doorbell rang and awoke us!

Stateway Motel - Post makeover
Stateway Motel – Post makeover

Our day to day team comprised of

  • Rob on Motel Operations and Maintenance
  • Dianne on Housekeeping, Reception and Payroll
  • Samantha on Housekeeping and Client entertainment


  • Myself on Motel Operations, Training & Marketing

We were also supported by one of our temps – Nadia, who had been with us since the beginning of KSS, as a casual housekeeper – Nadia rocks and is now considered “one of ours”.  Robs parents, my dad and the kids Pop Kyle came to visit and provided practical assistance with all manner of things and we had additional amazing technology support from my brother Chris and accounting/business support from Stuart.   You were all amazing with your assistance, support and advice – thanks.

On a professional level I was supported and mentored by many colleagues from Waiariki, the team at Liquor Licencing Bureau and the wonderful staff from Hospitality Standards Institute (H.S.I) .  These associations and partnerships allowed further development of the KSS model and the opportunity to take Dianne and Rob on as Trainees allowing them to gain formal Hospitality qualifications in Accommodation Services.   So as not to be left out, I undertook the Mauri Ora course through Te Wananga o Aotearoa to further explore my Maori heritage.

Sadly my Nan from Napier passed away and this had a profound impact on me. Nan had always believed in me – from when I was little, as a teenager, as a young mother, as an equal and as a cake decorator.  The loss of Nan scared me as without her who would be believing in me?  I realized it was time to start believing in myself.

Nan with Samantha
Nan with Samantha

For my birthday Dianne got me a tiny wee Whoodledor  puppy ( Wheaten Terrier/Labrador/Poodle) called Buffy. This small black fluffy energy ball created much mischief and mayhem while stealing our hearts – she is still a mischief today but has grown to a whopping 22 kgs.


 The other addition to our family was a mannequin to use for marketing purposes at the motel.   We named her Myrtle, in honour of Nan, and she quickly took on a life of her own becoming a local and international celebrity.


Eating, breathing, sleeping and working together 24 hours a day was actually easier than we thought it would be and we all rose to the many challenges that unexpectedly presented themselves on a daily basis (often in the middle of the night).  We would do this again in a flash.

To see what we are doing now  Click Here


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