Love for kai feeds hospo career

With a life-long love of food, hospitality was a natural career choice for Fawn Marsh. Having enjoyed cooking with her grandma while growing up, Fawn is now passing her skills on to the next generation by teaching her daughter how to make healthy meals.

Cooking is more than a passion for Fawn Marsh – it’s about whānau too. With a six-year-old daughter, Fawn is keen to set a good example and encourage a healthy lifestyle.

“I wanted to learn how to make nutritious meals for my daughter. I’ve always had a love for food, but I’ve never had the options to do it.”

Now a few months into her Level 4 NZ Certificate in Cookery at Kiwa, the 26-year-old enjoys bringing the kai she makes in class home to share with her daughter.

“I don’t eat the food when I’m at my course. If I have something I think would be good for us, I save it for our dinner because I like my daughter to taste our food.” 

“The other day I made a platter with everything you need for a Chicken Caesar Salad, and I had her make her own one. I like her to get involved in helping with the cooking, as well as getting her on a healthy diet. I want her to have the healthiest food options.”

Plus, cooking on campus has given Fawn the chance to try new methods and ingredients that aren’t usually in her price range as a student and single mum. 

“I get to use certain ingredients that I’d never normally be able to use due to my budgeting. I was able to make pasta because we had pasta makers. To be able to utilise stuff I don’t have access to at home, because of my finances, has been amazing.”

Sharing her cooking skills with the next generation is close to Fawn’s heart, having been taught a lot as a child by her grandmother – who still lives nearby in Papakura.

“She’s very old-school and used to cook everything for my grandad. Growing up learning how to bake with my grandma, that’s one of my favourite memories and still to this day is one of my happy places.” 

Passionate about the hospitality industry, Fawn now has her sights set on getting qualified and being her own boss. 

“It’s a goal of mine to open a catering business. I want to be able to employ people who’ve been through hard times, so I can help get them out into the community.” 

Culture course

Fawn (Ngāpui, Tainui) has enjoyed learning more about Māori culture as she’s studied cookery.

“Mum is English and Scottish, and dad’s Māori. I’ve never really been around dad; I’ve been brought up with mum and her family, so I didn’t grow up knowing much about Māori culture,” she says.

“I’ve learned more at Kiwa about the Māori culture than in the entire time I was at school. When Matariki happened this year, our chef dedicated two theory days to explaining Matariki and the traditional food. 

“We got to learn about traditional Māori foods, which I thought was amazing because, I’m not gonna lie, I’m like the whitest Māori ever – so it was awesome to learn about that.”

“That’s something I love about the course, is that I get to learn about Māori culture as well as hospitality.”

A side of support

Having worked since her high-school years, Fawn tried a few jobs before finding her trade. She has worked in offices, warehouses, cafés and a First Aid certificate licencing company. 

“I wanted to find a job I was passionate about, which is the reason I finally started doing hospitality. 

“I’m one of those ones who watches every season of Master Chef and My Kitchen Rules. Most of my Netflix is food shows.”

Studying has had its challenges for Fawn, but MPTT’s support has helped, she says.

“When I was doing Level 3, I was on a solo mum’s benefit because the course wasn’t full-time. But when I moved to Level 4, it was considered full-time and they just cut my benefit. 

“There was a time when I wasn’t actually getting paid at all, and I was scared I’d lose my house and everything.”

Fawn was thankful to have support from her MPTT navigator, Hami Chapman, who stepped in to help get her payments sorted. 

“Hami gave me so much help. He organised a meeting with someone from Studylink to get everything sorted with my student allowance. I ended up getting paid that same week. I was so grateful for Hami’s support.”

Through MPTT’s Learner Support Fund, Fawn has been able to get new chef clogs, which are specialised footwear for workers in the industry. MPTT funded a set of professional knives for Fawn.

“She will be thrilled to have these items that she can call her own,” says Hami. “They will definitely help her in her future culinary endeavours.”

Support from MPTT has helped Fawn overcome challenges that came up during her course, making it easier to stay focused on her learning.
Stepping up to the plate

Studying as a single parent means Fawn needs to stay organised.

“It’s not a problem as long as I have a routine. I’m used to living on a timetable and having everything planned,” she says.

“My daughter’s school and Kiwa are only five minutes apart, and I live about 10 minutes from both of them, so that’s amazing.”

Outside of her studies, Fawn prioritises spending quality time with her daughter.

“We’re involved in the Drury softball team, and we also go to the park or pools for ‘us’ time.”

Like many students, Fawn’s studies in 2020 have been disrupted by Covid-19. However, she plans to complete Level 4 in May 2021.

In the meantime, Fawn is motivated to make the most of her course and build up her skills for her ongoing career.

“I know I’ve got a long way to get there, but I want to run my own business. That’s why I wanted to study hospitality — it’s part and parcel with my goal for the future.”


Interested in studying cookery like Fawn? An MPTT scholarship can help. If you’re Māori or Pasifika and you plan to study hospitality at Level 3 or Level 4, you might qualify for our scholarship programme. Find out more about a career in hospitality.

Whānau away from home: hospo trainee’s dream job

Cool-headed catering manager Bridgit-Lee Morgan loves the fast-paced nature of her job, but not as much as she loves having a strong team around her. Bridgit knows when the pressure’s on, she can always turn to her work whānau for support — and a laugh.  

For someone who loves whānau and socialising as much as Bridgit-Lee Morgan, working in hospitality is the perfect career. 

“My workmates are like family — we spend so much time together at work and outside of work. Most of the time, there’s just a lot of talking about the jobs we do, our families, and things we’re getting up to. Always having somebody to talk to is the best part about it.” 


Bridgit, 26, gained her L4 Certificate in Food and Beverage from Manukau Institute of Technology through an MPTT Auckland scholarship in 2017, and has been working for Baildon Hospitality for about three years. 

She’s quickly worked her way up the ranks, including time as a chef de partie, to take on a leadership position as catering manager at Baildon’s Fletcher Building Café in Penrose. 

Her job can be high-pressure but it’s definitely never boring.

“I’d done other jobs before I came into hospitality and, in most of those jobs, it was just me — there was no team. Whereas now, I do have a team and I’ve got back-up. 

“It’s awesome because no matter what I’m doing or how much pressure I’m under, I’ve always got a helping hand somewhere.”

An early taste for catering

Studying hospitality was a natural fit for Bridgit (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tūwharetoa), who grew up catering with whānau for large groups — celebrations, birthdays, tangi — at Hia Kaitupeka Marae and Kaurirki Marae in Taumarunui. 

“Because of my experience on maraes, that sort of thing was common sense to me. I didn’t realise how much I already knew. It was cool to realise I could make good money out of it, rather than just being told what to do by my family!”

Bridgit is still close with her family — she lives with her siblings and parents in their family home in South Auckland. Her sister has a house just down the road as well.

“I’m constantly back and forth between houses!”

A full plate

As catering manager, Bridgit is responsible for making sure food and beverages are provided for five to 10 functions every day. Functions range in size from 10 to 200 people, and even up to several thousand people occasionally. 

“I’ve been told that I’m calm under pressure,” says Bridgit. “We have catering requests pop up without much notice and I have to make 100 of this or 100 of that and I’m like, ‘Yep, it’s all good — I’ll get it done within the hour’.”

Handling multiple catering orders at a time can be stressful, but Bridgit prides herself on staying calm and keeping a smile on.


Brian Sewell, managing director of Baildon Hospitality, says Bridgit’s role requires excellent organisational skills. 

“Bridgit’s main traits are her reliability and time management. She’s someone we really rely on and we know she’s always there to do the job.”

“On an average day, emails come in requesting catering, so Bridgit picks up on those emails and coordinates them. Then she works alongside the chefs on the hot line, as well as doing her own food preparation and assembly for it, and then she arranges for all this to be delivered.”


Hungry to learn

Brian says Bridgit has leapt at every opportunity to develop her catering and leadership skills.   

“She’s taken not just to the professional training, but also to developing within herself. When we lost our catering manager at the end of last year, we gave Bridgit the opportunity to step into that role, and she’s really grasped it.” 

Bridgit says taking on a leadership role has meant growing her overall level of professionalism. 

“I used to be a bit casual in my approach, but I’ve got better at my communication and just being more professional all round.” 

Her goals for the future include doing an apprenticeship at some stage, and possibly starting her own catering business. 

“I’ve had so many people I know hitting me up asking if i can cater events for them, so I’m just trying to work out how to do that outside of my normal work hours.”

Food for thought

Brian says for anyone who’s reliable, organised and likes serving others, there’s no shortage of jobs in the hospitality sector. 

It’s a great career option with plenty of chances to climb the ladder, he says. 

“There’s a real misconception that catering, and hospitality in general, is kind of a stop-gap. People think it’s something you go into while deciding what to do. But it’s more than that — it’s a lifelong occupation.

“For someone like Bridgit — and actually, all of our senior management are Māori — this is actually a career for them. That’s something we love to promote.” 

Bridgit hopes that sharing her story will inspire hospitality trainees to believe in themselves, finish their studies and push on for success. 


Find out more about a career in hospitality, where and how to train, and whether you might be eligible for an MPTT scholarship at www.maoripasifikatrades.co.nz/hospitality

Also, read our story about Bridgit from 2016, when she travelled to Fiji with other MPTT Auckland trainees to help build cyclone-resistant homes for low-income families — www.maoripasifikatrades.co.nz/hospo-skills-honed-on-the-marae/

Crossing the finish line:
Get qualified on time

Finishing your apprenticeship means you can stop studying and start enjoying being a qualified tradie – including earning more money and having more job opportunities.

But getting qualified is more of a marathon than a sprint. From your pre-trades course to the end of your apprenticeship you’ll be training for several years, so it’s important to stay motivated along the way.

The exact time it takes depends on your trade, and whether you already have some of the skills you need (like if you’ve worked as a hammerhand). But no matter what your situation, the sooner you get certified, the sooner you can enjoy the benefits. Plus, if you wait too long without progressing, you might need to pay another apprenticeship fee.

Remember, you’re never alone in your training journey – there’s heaps of support to help you get your qualification. So read on for how to ensure you complete your apprenticeship in good time, and what to do when problems come up.

Why get qualified?

It takes work to get your qualification, so it’s important to remember why you’re doing it.

Jodi Franklin from MITO says there are a lot of benefits to getting qualified besides not having to study anymore.

“A lot of things happen when you get qualified. It’s not just a certificate; generally you’re rewarded in the workplace with a pay increase. And the world’s your oyster in terms of being able to take your qualification all over the world. If you want to go and live somewhere else for a change of scenery, you can take your qualification with you.”

On the other hand, if you don’t get qualified, you’ll limit your opportunities and how much you can earn, says Jodi.

“It doesn’t matter how close you get to completing your qualification. Even if you finish 99%, it’s not recognised until you complete it.”

So if you want more money and more mana on the job, and the freedom to take your skills overseas or start your own business, get your certification sorted as soon as you can.

Take away: You need to get qualified to get the benefits from your training, like more money and more job opportunities.
Good timing

When you sign on for an apprenticeship, your training provider (called an Industry Training Organisation, or ITO) will let you know how long it’ll ideally take you to complete your qualification. Depending on your trade, this is usually between 2 years and 4 ½ years of being an apprentice.

But it’s important to know that apprenticeships aren’t just about the hours you spend on site. Instead, you need to show the skills you’ve developed, says Doug Leef from BCITO.

“It’s all about competency. We all learn differently and, as such, progression from person to person differs. A lot of this comes down to the relationships forged on the job site and the quality of training and supervision given to trainees.”

Your employer is responsible for making sure you get the practical training you need during your apprenticeship, says Doug.

“That onus falls on the employer. It’s their responsibility to get trainees qualified. When they sign the apprentice up, we make the employer aware of the scope of work required.”

Take away: Apprentices need to show they have the right practical skills. Your boss is responsible for making sure you learn all the skills you need on the job, but you can help move things along quickly. Have a chat to your boss or ITO training advisor about the skills you need to learn, and make a plan for what you want to get signed off at your next meeting with your training advisor.

Getting qualified is more of a marathon than a sprint.

In theory

But it’s not enough to just show up to work and do what your employer says. As an apprentice, you need to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. That’s where theory or book work comes in.

“It can be a bit daunting to have all this theory to learn,” says Doug. “But you’ve got to understand the underpinning theory and the reasons behind why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s not just throwing houses up; it’s about compliance, accountability and administration.”

The biggest challenge for most apprentices is finding time for their theory work on top of working full-time. Depending on your trade and schedule, you might do your theory work during a block course (where you go into a classroom with other trainees on certain days), a night class after working hours, or at home in your spare time.

“It’s about managing your hours,” says Aimee Hutcheson from Skills. “Most apprentices are flat tack as soon as they enter the industry, so they need to work with their employer to fit in time for their theory work.”

To make sure your theory work doesn’t build up and get overwhelming, make time to work on it regularly, says Jodi.

“The most successful apprentices are the ones who get into a routine. It might help to go along to a night class. Otherwise, you need to find that one night where you’re not playing rugby or busy with other commitments. Even just a couple of hours a week makes a big difference. Doing a little bit and often is the key to success.”

Take away: Make time every week to do a bit of your theory work, so you don’t fall behind. When you regularly do work towards your qualification, you know you’re building your skills and getting closer to being a skilled tradie. And remember, you don’t have to do it alone – there’s heaps of support available, so if you need help or have a question, talk to your boss or training advisor.
Needing help – it’s normal

Many trainees feel whakamā (shy or embarrassed) when asking for help. But the truth is, everyone needs help at some point in their training.

Remember, it’s normal to need to ask questions sometimes, and no-one expects you to know everything.

“We’re all embarrassed to ask for help from time to time,” says Doug. “But you need to put your hand up early. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.”

One reason you might need support is if you don’t understand something your tutor says in class. It’s really important to speak up, because no question is a dumb question. Chances are, other students are wondering about the same thing.

“We do have people who have had to resit exams because of the spiral effect of being too shy to ask questions in class,” says Aimee. “Then they’re resitting because they’ve never had the relationship with their tutor to not be whakamā to ask questions and ask for help.”

Having learning differences, like dyslexia, can also mean you need to ask for help. If you’re not sure if that applies to you, don’t worry. Your ITO will do a quick test to see if you’d benefit from help with literacy or numeracy – and there’s plenty of support available.

“You can talk to your employer or tutor if you need help, or your training advisor (from your ITO) is just a phone call away if you have any questions or concerns,” says Aimee.

“You’ve got to build that confidence to be able to ask questions and ask for help if you’re struggling. At the end of the day, we all want you to get through and get qualified, and to feel like you’re achieving as well – to understand what you’re learning, not just check a box.”

Take away: Everyone needs help sometimes, so make sure you speak up if you don’t understand something or are finding anything difficult.
Work worries

At some point during your apprenticeship, you might need to change jobs.

“Some trainees want to change employers because they’re travelling too far for work, or there’s not enough work, or maybe they’re not getting on with people on site,” says Doug. “It’s not the trainee or the employer’s fault – it’s just life.”

It’s okay to change jobs if you need to, but remember that an apprenticeship is an agreement between three parties: you, your employer and your apprenticeship provider. So when you leave your employer, you break the apprenticeship contract and you’ll need to sign another one with your next employer.

Before you change jobs, make sure your new boss is supportive of you doing an apprenticeship, says Jodi.

“You don’t have to stick it out in an employment situation that’s not right for you. And it’s the same if apprentices are laid off because their employer doesn’t have enough work for them or they want experience in other parts of the industry.

“You can change jobs and continue your apprenticeship, if you have the support of your new employer.”

If you’ve already had parts of your apprenticeship signed off and completed, don’t worry. The work you’ve already completed will stay in the system and you can transfer that to your new job.

But remember, changing jobs often takes time, which can delay your progress. For example, your new employer might want you to do a trial for a few months before giving you an apprenticeship. So change jobs if you need to, but don’t do it lightly.

Take away: It’s best to stay with your employer if you can. If you need to change jobs, make sure your new boss wants to give you an apprenticeship.
Need a break?

Sometimes life gets in the way of your learning. If you’re not able to work for a while, then you might be able to take a brief break from your apprenticeship, as long as your boss is on board.

“If you take a short break due to injury, then as long as your employer is aware of it and you’re still employed by the same company, it’s not an issue,” says Doug.

“For example, if you’ve hurt your knee playing rugby and you’re on ACC then we’ll say, ‘This person’s not working; they’re still in their apprenticeship, but their employer and ITO recognise they’re not fit for work’. So we can put your apprenticeship on hold until you can work again.”

But remember, you can’t put your apprenticeship on hold forever. You need to talk to your boss and ITO about why you need a break, and make a plan for when you’ll return.

“Apprenticeships can time out,” says Aimee. “Sometimes you can get an extension, but not by much. If you run out of time, you can be charged a fee because it’s almost like you’re signing up for that year of your apprenticeship again. You can’t just put it on hold indefinitely.”

Take away: If you need a break, talk to your employer and ITO and see if they can support your break from work. Just make sure you don’t leave it too long before you come back to your apprenticeship, because the longer you leave it, the more difficult it is to get back into it – plus you might be charged an extra fee.

Hospo skills honed on the marae

After catering for large groups at the marae with her family, Bridgit-Lee Morgan found her hospitality skills were already well honed. By getting qualified, the 23-year-old is turning her natural talent into an exciting career.

Growing up in a big Māori family meant Bridgit-Lee Morgan developed her hospitality skills well before she even set foot on a tertiary campus.

Catering for large groups at the marae was just part of everyday life, so it came as a surprise to learn she could make a career from it.

“When I first started studying hospitality, the tutors were telling us stuff like how to set up a restaurant in 30 minutes, and I realised I already knew it,” she says.

“Because of my experience on the marae, that sort of thing was common sense to me. I didn’t realise how much I already knew. It was cool to realise I could make good money out of it, rather than just being told what to do by my family!”

Finding her path

Bridgit, aged 23, is doing a L4 Certificate in Food and Beverage at Manukau Institute of Technology and will qualify early next year.

Despite her natural talent in hospitality, Bridgit didn’t see it as a viable career path when she was leaving school.

Instead, she went straight into a warehouse job, then studied tourism and travel, before becoming a deckhand on Te Aurere Waka, a traditional voyaging ship based out of Auckland.

“We did tours out of Auckland and I really enjoyed it. That was one of the main things I wanted to do in tourism – work outdoors.”

Bridgit’s move into formal hospitality training came by chance.

“I was supposed to go into a Diploma in Pacific Rim Tourism but they got my details mixed up and I ended up doing hospo. I was planning to do that later anyway, so I just went with it and I’ve really enjoyed it.”

She says the most attractive things about working in hospitality are the opportunities to travel and earn a decent wage.

“I’m thinking about training as a chef too because that’s related to hospitality.”

Taking opportunities

Bridgit says it was a big help having her course fees covered by a scholarship from MPTT Auckland.

“It made it much easier financially. There’s been no pressure, no worries about the money.”

As an MPTT Auckland scholar, Bridgit was invited to join a team of trades trainees who travelled to Fiji in September to build cyclone-resistant homes for low-income families.  

Helping build the two homes from scratch, in a small settlement near Nadi, gave Bridgit a massive confidence boost in terms of her DIY skills.

“That trip really opened my mind up about different options. The way you can build a house, door handles and windows, is just amazing.

“I usually just ask dad to do that kind of thing for me at home but I feel way more confident now about doing it myself.”

Bridgit’s trip to Fiji was made possible thanks to the generosity of sponsors like Bev McConnell, Dr William and Loreen Brehaut, Argus Fire Protection and Allendale Electrical.

“Thank you for the opportunity to go to Fiji and do some good work. It’s been a really good experience,” Bridgit says.

Desk job to dream job

After years of working at a desk, Fou Fale left his office job to follow his passion and become a chef.

Three years ago, Fou Fale was stuck behind a desk shuffling paperwork at an inner-city telecommunications company.

He’d been in and out of jobs for years, often struggling to pay bills and provide for his wife and three young children.

“I was trying to find that sense of thriving in my life – but I lacked it,” says the 29-year-old Samoan.

His true passion, cooking, had been simmering under the surface for years.

“I’m one of seven siblings and I was always the family cook. Every time we had get-togethers I’d try to make fancy dinners out of corned beef, chicken backs, chop suey and taro!”

Growing confidence

When someone told him about Māori and Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT), the possibility of training as a chef for free seemed too good to be true.

“I thought it would be awesome because it would take the financial pressure off, not having to pay back a massive student loan. But I didn’t think I was entitled.”

Fou’s wife, Katerina, says her husband faced a major confidence hurdle applying for the course.

“He thought he really was not good enough for it. Like, ‘I’m just a Samoan boy, they’re not going to give me that’.”

Encouraged by his family and pastor, Fou stepped out and applied.

“When I got in I was like ‘Wow, my first scholarship ever!’ It made me feel kind of special,” he recalls.

“I saw it as a sign and thought ‘I’m not going to go half-hearted; I’m going to give it my all’.”

Stepping up

Fou has excelled during his Certificate in Cookery (Level 3 and 4), shining as an inspiring and talented young leader at Manukau Institute of Technology.

In fact, his 30 classmates picked Fou to be their Head Chef for the final semester.

“It’s pretty full-on juggling my training, kids and this new responsibility as Head Chef, but it’s been awesome and I’m looking forward to growing my cooking and leadership skills.”

Living the dream

Fou says MPTT gave him an opportunity to chase something he’s dreamt about for a long time.

Now, as he nears graduation, Fou says his dream is to run his own catering business.

“That’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but I needed to get the qualification first.”

He still loves cooking traditional Pacific Island food, but has given his old childhood favourites a new twist.

“I still cook those same things but I’ve modernised them, making the dishes as presentable and healthy as possible. That’s where I’m heading now – making healthy recipes and meals for our people.”

Fou is also driven to help young people in his church.

“Some of those kids have no sense of direction and I tell them there’s help out there that’s free, and there are people who are willing to sacrifice their time to make your future better – not just for you but also for your kids.”

Armed with new skills and new hope for the future, Fou’s vision is to see other young Pasifika and Māori take hold of the opportunities presented by MPTT.

“If we can inspire as many of our Pacific Island and Māori people to take up this programme, that’s my goal. Everyone’s given the same opportunities but it’s up to them to make something out of it.”