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Heavens celebrate national title over three generations

Sam Heaven’s cream mille-feuille layered between sheets of compressed apple and rosewater pastry

A family bakery in Napier has added a third generation’s name to a national Baker of the Year trophy.

Sam Heaven’s name now graces the trophy beside that of his father, Jason, and grandfather, Graham, who founded the business in the 1970s.

The Baking Industry Association of New Zealand judged Heaven’s Bakery as the best in a 12-category competition.

In taking out the competition, Heaven’s Bakery received the highest score in the mid-winter Christmas themed competition.

From left, Jason Heaven, his wife, Leanne, their son, Sam, and Jason’s father, Graham

Sam works for the family business during his holidays and time away from his apprenticeship at a top Auckland venue.

He made most of the entries in the recent competition, which resulted in his name going on the trophy.

The bakery won best mini yule log, trifle verrines, shortbread and the creative section (their entry was a gingerbread Christmas tree).

Sam Heaven’s winning mini yule log of praline mousse with tropical fruit jelly and crème brulee on a gingerbread base

Sam Heaven’s category winning trifle verrines

This white gingerbread Christmas tree won the creative section. It was made by Leanne Heaven

The bakery was placed second in the cake and pastry sections and third for its stollen and croissants.

The win has been a boost and encouragement to the small team at Heaven’s Bakery, which has gone through a time of change and is now a boutique artisan bakery at 124 Kennedy Road in Marewa, Napier.

“Baking in bulk has been replaced by one site where customers can see the operation in progress. The business is also better able to respond to specific customer requests,” says managing director, Jason Heaven.

The keys to success

He says family values are at the core of the operation and reflect how staff are treated as part of the team.

The finest ingredients and a guarantee of 100 per cent satisfaction are also among the values at Heaven’s Bakery.

Where possible the bakery also supports community events and local fundraising.

The team at Heaven’s Bakery has won numerous awards, starting with the New Zealand Baker of the Year (nine times), a Great Kiwi Pie Competition and the 2002 Hawke’s Bay Business of the Year Award.

Jason believes the winning formula is practice and passion.

They also try to use local ingredients where possible, especially fruit in season.

He says it’s all part of adapting to the growing Hawke’s Bay foodie culture as part of their future vision.

“Building a good relationship with local suppliers is important,” Jason says.

The building of a dream 

Heaven’s Bakery began as a dream of a young boy growing up in Waipukurau.

Jason’s father, Graham, knew he wanted to make something of himself so, in 1963, he began an apprenticeship in Havelock North.

Some years later, while driving through Taradale, he saw the possible potential in the area. So, in 1974, Graham and his wife, Denise, bought a small shop and there began the first Heaven’s Bakery.

In 1978, after travelling overseas, Denise and Graham saw the hot bread shop concept. They bought a site in Meeanee Road and established Hawke’s Bay’s first Heaven’s Hot Bread Shop.

After Jason completed an apprenticeship with the family firm he worked at the well-known Konditorei Aida in Wellington, which specialised in European baking.

Several more Heaven’s family outlets were opened, including a state-of-the-art bakery in Greenmeadows.

In response to yet more changes in the industry, the firm regrouped and now runs just one site in Kennedy Road with a staff of twelve.

Jason says it seems as though the firm has to reinvent itself every 10 years as trends change.

For decades customers bought baking to take home. Now people prefer to eat in and enjoy a coffee at the same time.

Jason took over as managing director of Heaven’s Bakery in 2000, which meant that Graham was then able to focus more on his passion of training and encouraging young people into the exciting and creative industry of baking.

Graham now works for Food and Product New Zealand, which is a trainer and mentor to the country’s baking, food processing and fresh produce sectors, sharing his skills with the next generation.

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To go to the Heaven’s Bakery website click here


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