The Eastern Institute of Technology's (EIT) Te Aho a Māui Hawke's Bay campus has offered a NZ Certificate in Cookery (Level 3) fee free marae based course to the community for the past three years.

Currently four marae based cookery courses are being run at four marae situated in Wairoa, Mahia, Uawa, Tologa Bay and Bridge Pa, Hastings.

Glenn Fulcher, EIT's head of School of Tourism and Hospitality, said, "The marae based cookery course has been a great opportunity for EIT to reach out to smaller communities by providing hands-on training in their marae kitchen environment.

"Not only has it created a more welcoming atmosphere for learning in the field of hospitality, but it's also brought learning into a whānau based environment where more traditional ways of gathering and cooking food can be reintroduced," Fulcher said.

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Korongata Marae is hosting one of the courses run by learning facilitator Erina Smith.

"While learning how to feed, provide for their whānau and have fun, I really am blessed to have a great group of enthusiastic students," Smith said.

"This opportunity for some of these students will be absolutely life changing. Every student has their own unique story and have all faced their fair share of challenges, but being on the marae takes the pressure away.

"They can relax and be themselves without being overwhelmed on campus. This course will give them the confidence to be more! To achieve more, to live more, and it's a very beautiful journey to be a part of," she said.

Last Wednesday Smith's group wore their chef uniforms for the first time.

Kestrel Lee Te Amo is one of the students on the course. She hails from Wairoa and lives in Heretaunga and has a passion for food and for people. She is thoroughly enjoying the course and the new friends she's made.

Te Amo has a desire to pursue a career in hospitality and is keen to work hard to receive her tohu to further add to her kete of knowledge.

Last week was the third week of an 18-week journey and Te Amo said she's picked up a lot of new knowledge already.

Te Amo completed a finger food course at Hukarere Māori Girls' College while she was attending the school but said this marae cookery course is taking her to a whole new level.

"If you have a passion for food and people then this is a good opportunity to pursue your dreams," said Te Amo .

"It can take you to many places and give you more career options for the future."

Tui Hapi and Harata Rapaea both have links to Bridge Pa and say this is a great opportunity for the community.

Hapi said she's learned so much about food and how important preparing healthy food is. Her main goal for doing this course was to receive her L3 certificate.

She will decide later on if she wants to pursue further education in the area of hospitality but for now she is keen to learn as much as possible and gain her certificate.

Daniel Bowman is the only male on the course and he's enjoying learning alongside nine female students who are mainly mums in their mid 40s. He is in his early 20s and completed level 1 and 2 of the cookery course when he was attending a workforce programme.

He's happy to pick up his training from where he left off and feels grateful to be on a course with so many 'mums' he can learn from.

"It keeps me busy and out of trouble," Bowman said.

Tina Paku hails from both Ruahapia and Kahuranaki Marae and she's actively cooking for whanau at both marae.

Admittedly Paku said, "I know how to cook, but each person has their own way of cooking and coming on to this course I have learnt the correct procedures and ways to cook.

"It's all about learning new methods and passing the knowledge on."

Paku has worked at Heinz Watties for many years and never had the time to do the cookery course and work at the same time but this course suits her lifestyle and she's looking forward to receiving her certificate.

"Learning about food is also about looking after ourselves and those we care for," Paku said.

"At Ruahapia Marae my generation is lucky to get into the kitchen, let alone cook. My Dad and uncles all cook at the marae."

But she said there's a younger generation coming through. Her and her cousins have learned from the best and a few of them like Paku are studying to learn more about the art of cooking, some of whom have degrees in hospitality.

Paku is hoping that EIT will take this course to Kahuranaki Marae to host a future marae based cookery course. She mentioned how beautiful the upgraded kitchen and facilities are at Te Hauke.

Glenn Fulcher is hoping to carry on these Fee Free Level 3 Marae Based Cookery Courses. The success of these current courses will help towards this happening.