A local teen with a knack for rising early has finished his diploma in baking, at just 16. Haans Paraki-Webber, a home-school student, started doing work experience at Rotorua's Ciabatta Bakery when he was just 13.
After a year of unpaid work experience, bakery owners Alex and Sue Burge were so impressed with Haans' commitment, they offered him paid employment one day a week. Since then he has completed his diploma in baking through Waiariki Institute of Technology.
Haans said his year at Waiariki was "fantastic" and that he was relieved to finish.
"It was really fun, some parts were hard, but mostly fun. I'm relieved to be finished but I'm also a little bit sad that I don't get to hang out with my classmates any more."
He said the most challenging part for him was the assignments, adding he was good at the practical side of things though and managed to get through quite well.
Haans said it was his goal to one day open his own bakery but for now he was enjoying working fulltime at Ciabatta Bakery.
"I work four days a week, it's nice to have a three-day weekend as well as doing what I love when I go to work," Haans said.
He said Mr Burge had been really helpful and he was always learning from him.
Haans first acquired his passion for baking when he was 12 and started making packet mix cakes from the supermarket.
"Then I learned how to make them from scratch and a friend of mine took me to one of his shifts at the bakery and that's when I wanted to be a baker. It was awesome seeing how it was made in bulk."
He said if there was anyone else out there wanting to do something similar at a young age they should work hard to get it. "Even if you don't really want to do something that will get you there, put effort into it and make it fantastic. Try to enjoy everything you do."
Haans' mum Cindy Paraki said the point of difference with Haans was that he was so young when he knew what he wanted to do.
She said it was hard to get people to take him seriously and she was grateful to the Burges and Waiariki for doing so.
"They haven't taken on someone as young as him before but he did really well. He was so lucky with his training and now he is in a position where he is training others coming through."
Ms Paraki said she would love to see other businesses take youngsters under their wing because it had taught Haans so much.
"He was so confident picking knifes and chopping and mixing things. He got into it seriously from the age of 12 when he just kept making things. He has the confidence to try anything," Ms Paraki said.
Mr Burge said Haans was such a young enthusiastic guy.
"We realised he had potential to do really well and after all this time he has done exceptionally well."
Mr Burge said it was great to see how Haans had progressed from being a young apprentice to training the new staff they had recently employed. "He has such an awesome attitude that makes the workplace environment just fantastic."