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.