By Mick Jensen
Ashburton’s Hakatere Marae will soon offer a course in marae catering – the first time it has been offered in the South Island.
And a wine and dine fundraiser at the marae on June 30 will support youth development work in the district and herald the start of the new catering course.
Dubbed Matariki At The Marae, the event will be the first opportunity for 10 trainees to demonstrate skills as they work towards a national certificate in marae catering.
The course is being offered for the first time in the South Island and will be assessed by three trained volunteer assessors associated with Hakatere Marae.
The front and back-of-house skills taught are intended to better prepare Maori and others for future jobs in the hospitality industry.
Local co-ordinator and volunteer Tom Taukamo said it was an exciting time for the marae.
Trainees would be involved in all functions at the marae over the next six months and would learn and develop a range of useful skills.
The course would cover all aspects of catering and would have a strong focus on Maori culture and marae protocol.
Trainees and local youth volunteers would be put to the test and involved in delivering an up-market three-course dinner on June 30, said Mr Taukamo.
They would be assessed for the first time on food preparation, cooking and cleaning up, as well as other back and front of house duties.
The tasty menu included green lipped mussels, a choice of seafood chowder or pumpkin soup and mains that included three meats cooked in a hangi.
“The meat will be accompanied by not-so-traditional sauces such as mint, cranberry and gravy,” Mr Taukamo said.
Tables would be decorated with traditional flax weaving, native foliage, natural wood vases and wooden table numbers, and again would feature input from trainees and other volunteers.
Mr Taukamo and other performers will provide the entertainment on the night, which includes three bands, and a wide mix of music, including traditional Maori.
Mr Taukamo said he hoped that more marae-based courses could be developed next year, including carpentry, which was of particular interest to him, and also in music.
Tickets for Matariki At The Marae cost $40 and are limited to 80. A cash bar will operate.