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Stylish Cusine on Marae Menu After Cookery Course

June 18, 2018

Bringing a touch of gourmet flair to marae cuisine in Wairoa – cookery graduates from left: Wikitoria Hauraki, Georgina Belmont and Teena Edwards.


Gourmet meals look set to become a feature at marae and sports clubs around Wairoa where a group of women learned much more than they expected at an EIT cookery course.

After teaching them the fundamentals of food safety and cookery basics, tutor and chef Tony Te Nahu provided them with the skills to turn food staples into stylish cuisine. 

The marae-based New Zealand Certificate course in Wairoa proved just the ticket after Teena Edwards lost her job at the AFFCO meat works.

She and a couple of her classmates are now in hot demand for organising the catering at various functions around Wairoa, where marae committees, sports clubs and community organisations are becoming increasingly aware of their food safety liabilities.

Being based at nearby Takitimu Marae made the transition back to learning easy for Teena and other mature women, although at first they struggled a bit with some of the new food safety practices.

But they soon learned that the old ways were not necessarily the best ways.

“We grew up believing that the longer you left a cow that way – the better: you hung it until the meat turned blue. Now I know that you just don’t do that,” said Teena.

Likewise, shellfish could be a serious hazard, as had been discovered at a Napier marae where several people contracted paratyphoid.

Tony had taught them HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control process) whereby the onus of food safety rested with those handling it.

“We had to know  where the food had been sourced, how it was delivered, temperature checked, stored, prepared, cooked  and finally served to the end customer.”

The first things they had to master was making real stock – fish, beef, chicken and vegetable.  This was followed by a variety of roux based sauces; béchamel, volouté and espagnol. From there the world of taste was their oyster.

They also learned how to properly plate the food and really set a table.

“We learned some French as well,” said Teena.

Since completing the 18 week course, the women are able to plan menus, budget, source the ingredients and deliver meals for any number of people. They focus on fresh and nutritious meals which they say costs less as well.

They recently raised $5500 for Takitimu Marae and Te Reinga Netball Club by catering for a teachers’ conference in Wairoa.

“They asked us because they knew of our qualifications in safe food handling,” said Teena.

They are able to cater for special requirements such as gluten intolerance and diabetes.

Apart from catering at numerous tangi and marae functions, the regional kapa haka championships are next on the schedule. There they will provide upmarket food for about 100 officials over two days at Wairoa’s Lambton Square where there is no electricity. The logistics of this add to the challenge, on which Teena just thrives.

But apart from catering – which has always been part of her life -she has her eyes set on a whole new career path. She is now commuting to Gisborne three days a week to complete the Health and Wellbeing course at EIT’s Gisborne campus. She is aiming for a full-time job at a retirement centre or hospital.

EIT plans a further marae-based course in Wairoa in the second trimester. The women already have a list of friends keen to enrol.

“I reckon someone from each marae should do this course,” says Teena.