Picking up extra skills, tips, tricks and recipes are all part of the joy of a popular two hour weekly community cooking class at Rangitikei College.

Teacher Raewyn Turner is a bright-eyed woman with a big personality who loves to laugh.
She is also part-time cooking and sewing teacher at the Marton college.

And before cracking on with her class she tossed out a couple of jokes first.

"Get people laughing, the ice is broken and we're underway,'' she said.


The four, Monday two hour community cooking classes this month have been funded by Project Marton.

Raewyn said the classes are free.

The students only have to bring themselves and a plastic container to take their cooking home in, she said.

Project Marton coordinator Cath Ash said together with the Christian Welfare Trust, food donations from the Marton New World Supermarket, armfuls of vegetables from the

Marton Community Garden, the classes also mean a koha is given to the college for the use of the cooking room.

And Raewyn also volunteers her time.

"I enjoy it. I enjoy the adult students."

In the pipe line is a pilot programme for night cooking classes as well.
"To give those people a chance who can't get to day classes."

Gathered in one of the two Rangitikei College cooking rooms this week were a mix of young and older students.

From three young mums, a brother and sister, mum and daughter, aunty and niece and a couple of retired women who decided a refresher on basic cooking techniques would be handy.

But uppermost for most of the group they said was the friendly, happy, helpful way it was to meet others in the community.

As the young mums said it wasn't always easy to get out for a couple of hours and mingle solely with other adults.

"It's time-out and we're learning cooking skills, meeting other people and it's fun.''

Deahana Rowe-Reid said she remembers the day when she and friend Libby were students at the college and "acting up" at the back of cooking class.

"Not anymore. We're students again and loving it. No messing around for us anymore, we're here to learn and work."

The two giggle and say they never thought they would ever have the chance to be good kids at school.

The cooking room is filled with light and looks out over fields and farms into a huge, clear Rangitikei sky.

Comforting cooking smells fill the room and there is the sound of gentle pounding on boards as the student cooks knead their dough.

The lesson was how to make good pizza dough and fashion a pizza or calzone.

The only male was Simon O'Connor who had come to class with his younger sister Rosemary.

"I was hoping there night be another male or two here but it's okay because I'm here to better myself and I'm really enjoying it," he said.

Sister Rosemary smiled and said they needed to have better cooks in their family.

"I want to be very good at it, " she said.

Mum of three "picky eaters" Hannah Tuhou said she was constantly trying to come up with good ideas for economical meals.

And I wanted to meet other adults and make some friends as well."

Sharing new culinary tricks and a special bond are mum Laurinda Willis and daughter Savannah Waddell.

Laurinda said even though she's been cooking for years, learning new skills was always vital for good cooking.

Savannah said for her it wasn't really about cooking because spending time with her mum was "always special."

Fifteen year old Moelani Ngaati said she actually loved cooking but never told her sisters or father.

"Otherwise I'd have to do it all the time.

"I really do like cooking and I'm pretty good at it."

Raewyn said last week she had taught the art of making pastry and the lesson was pasties.

"If people realised how easy it was to make pastry they would never buy it."

Making pasties was an ideal economics lesson.

"You can fill them with everything and anything from corned beef and cabbage to one students who used chicken and corn. You can make a nourishing four pasties for under $30."

The vegetables that come from the community garden as well as the food donated by the supermarket is divvied up at the end of each lesson and given to the students to take home with their cooking.

At the close of the lesson everyone is chatting, some are holding out their trays of food with pride and they're all looking forward to next week's lesson.