A young Hawke's Bay woman who spurned the offer of a scholarship to study law to take up hospitality instead is now making waves in her chosen industry.
Kate Jones is assistant manager of Mary's Havelock North at age 21, and is turning into one of the new faces of an industry that has struggled in recent months to attract staff.
Closed borders have had a huge impact on many hospitality businesses in the region, who often rely on overseas workers.
Jones entered the industry as a 13-year-old doing part-time catering work but at high school she never saw it as a career path, and was encouraged to go to university.
But after receiving a scholarship to study law at university, she decided to take a punt on hospitality instead.
"When the time for university came around and things happened in my personal life, I decided to do a gap year and just keep working. And then I decided to stay in Hawke's Bay and keep doing hospitality."
She was hired by Deliciosa where she rose to become the junior manager and now works at Mary's Havelock North where she is the assistant manager.
"Working in hospitality has taught me so much more than just waiting tables," Jones said.
"There's opportunities for accounting, marketing, and management, all of which are skills useful in everyday life. You can always learn more."
Jones' colleague Tayla Ellmers took a different pathway into the industry, attending EIT's Hospitality Trades Academy in her last year at Central Hawke's Bay College.
A self-confessed "little old farm girl", the 21-year-old did not want to go to university, so followed her mother's suggestion and enrolled in the Level 4 Cookery Programme at EIT in 2017.
She was awarded a scholarship and went back in 2018 to complete the NZ Diploma in Cookery (Patisserie).
She was soon hired at Craggy Range Winery where she stayed for two years before moving to Mary's where she is a junior sous chef.
"I loved working at Craggy Range and after lockdown last year, my workmate Tom and I were given the opportunity to run Casey's Diner in the Cellar Door, which operated two days a week."
Ellmers says she loves her job, but also has ambitions of becoming head chef then if Covid-19 allows it, working her way up in the industry abroad.