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.