Whaea Chanel Ngaruhe performs a blessing for the new facility. by Sera King

Kuaka Cafe off to flying start

A group of Nayland staff gathered early in the morning on Monday 11th February for the official opening of the college’s brand spanking new Kuaka Cafe.

Tempted there by the lure of freshly-made coffee and breakfast, the staff first participated in the blessing of the facilities led by Nayland’s own kaiako Māori Chanel Ngaruhe. 

After that it was all about appreciating the facility as a pleasant place to wind up for the day. “It’s an amazing space,” IT technician Rebecca Hague said.

The cafe features a kitchen and servery space, a hot and cold water station and three microwaves for student use, as well as a spacious outdoor decked area with seating that looks out across the back field towards the mountain ranges across the bay.

The project has been a year-long process facilitated by business manager John Hall who says he’s very pleased with the outcome. “It’s a smart, tidy, professional looking cafe for a state-owned school,” he said.

There are still more upgrades to be completed such as roofing the deck and installing see-through, pull-down blinds.

The concept is a unique and exciting one. Level 3 hospitality students will practise their barista skills every  lunchtime by serving fresh coffee and other hot drinks to their paying clientele of students and staff. They will also sell pre-prepared foods that they have made to complement the set menu on offer by caterers the Libelle Group.

Hospitality teachers Michaela Nicholas and Matt Robinson have put in the hard yards to be at the cutting-edge of a move towards offering their students useful and industry-relevant skills in an authentic environment.

“The structure before was that you cook in partners and you cook enough for two of you and so you go out into the industry thinking you want to be a chef because you enjoyed hospitality, and that’s so not what it’s like. [Now] we’re using the commercial kitchen, we’re doing huge bulk-batch production, they’re actually getting a more accurate picture of what the industry is like,” Mrs Nicholas said.

The cafe has got the thumbs up from year 9 students Hayley, Lois and Uma. “It’s a lot fancier than at our old school,” Lois said. “Here you actually get decent food. It’s a good place to chillax and hang out,” Hayley added.