A Levin hospitality graduate made such an impression on work experience at Waiheke Island that the boutique bistro offered her a job.

Carla Marupo-Gataulu spent just a few days at a Waiheke Island resort as part of a work experience component of her course. She was pleasantly surprised when management offered her a job out of the blue.

"While I was there I just made sure I was always on task...that everything was tidy and that I was tidy," she said.

The Waiheke gig was perfect as the 17 year old was furthering her studies next year at the Manukau Institute of Technology in Auckland with a Diploma in Hospitality and Management.


Studies would be from Monday to Wednesday "with the occasional Thursday" allowing her to work at the Island resort at weekends.

Carla graduated from a year-long food and beverage level three and four course in Levin last week with honours and was awarded a Going Places scholarship worth $6000, which she would put towards her studies next year.

"It's going to help so much to pay for all that extra stuff," she said.

She felt lucky to be following a passion that had developed from a young age watching her older brother Richard, who was a chef, working in the kitchen.

"I love food. I'm a food person...I'm following my passion," she said. "Richard used to cook dinner and I learned a lot from him."

Carla's success was a highlight for a learning centre teaching young people a variety of skills and training that enabled them to find employment.

"I really do feel more confident. The practical side of it helped me to learn and pick up on new things," she said.

HLC CEO Patrick Rennell said there were 193 students to graduate this year from courses and for 80 per cent of students it was their first study qualification gained outside of secondary school.

Mr Rennell said Carla was one of six students to be awarded the Going Places scholarship grant.

"Getting hands-on experience gave Carla the confidence to apply for work on Waiheke Island while visiting her mother over the term break," he said.

"It was Carla who got the initial call for help from Waiheke Island Resort to support them in hosting the Australian Wallabies on their recent visit to NZ."

"Then came the phone call "have you got any more Carlas?" What started as a very casual conversation soon turned into a full nine-day work experience trip for the whole class."

Horowhenua District Council growth manager Nicki Brady was also a guest speaker at the graduation ceremony and offered encouragement.

"You've got to find what you love. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work," she said.

"The only way to do great work is to love what you do."

HLC courses ranged from Youth - Foundation Skills, Hospitality and Computing, Tertiary - Business Administration and Technology, Health and Well-being (support worker and advanced support), Study and Career Preparation, and Exercise, Food and Beverage, Cooking and Security.