“I come from a large family, I am the eldest of six and a mama to three beautiful tamariki. I am of Māori and Japanese descent with both sides of my culture strongly influencing who I am. I left school at a young age and became a mama to my eldest daughter when I was 17 however, in my early 20’s I returned to study and went on to work in health promotion. I have always had a desire to help others, to awhi whānau to pursue wellness. Last year I decided to return to study to pursue a Bachelor of Health science Majoring in Psychology and completed one year towards my degree, I had planned to continue study this year, but things took a big turn.
My whānau are all foodies, I grew up enjoying all kinds of cuisine. My Nan, my aunties, my mum and my dad are all great cooks and so my brothers and I naturally love to cook too. One day my brother and I came up with an idea to make and sell some dumplings, we thought we would see if anyone would be interested in buying them from us and maybe make some extra income. We put a post on Facebook and were blown away, within one day we had sold 600 before we had even made any! We got to work and figured out the recipe for such a huge number of dumplings and we delivered on all orders. The following week we decided to do another sale and we sold over 1200! The success of the dumplings sales spread around and we had people contacting us about all kinds of things, we already had a reputation for being in the kitchen on the marae making delicious kai and so I guess that’s why we got the call up from a friend to request catering, I thought ‘why not’? so I said yes. The catering was a success and the guests were very impressed with the food. A couple of days later we got another call up, this time it was a bit of an emergency and a much bigger challenge. One day to plan, shop and prepare a three-day catering menu for 26 people. I said yes. I called a couple of the cuzzies, pulled it all together and it was a huge success.
Six months on and we had to start a business, many of the guests from the events we cater love our food, our manaaki and recommend us to their friends and whānau, word of mouth is a powerful force! We have a team of five now and we have been continually booked and I just keep saying yes. Yes, to opportunity and yes to success.
Never did I imagine I would be able to do what I love and be self-employed! But the most exciting part is seeing how this Kai business can become a platform for what is most important to us, which is whānau and hauora. Our dream is to build a Whare Kai where we can use the magic that happens in the kitchen to connect and support whānau. We want to open a safe place where whānau can come to enjoy nutritious kai, we know you don’t need to be homeless to be hungry. We want to create and develop programs that meet the needs of our whānau to support sustainable change in the area of food, relationship with food and with body.
For the love of food, the need for connection and the gift of knowledge.”