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Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti

2 mins ago

EIT | Te Pūkenga student Nataliya McRae (left) received a Prime Minister’s Oranga Tamariki Award from Jacinda Ardern.

A young EIT | Te Pūkenga student with a passion to become a chef, has received a Prime Minister’s Oranga Tamariki Award from Jacinda Ardern in Wellington.

Nataliya McRae, 18, who grew up in state care, was one of a number of young people who were nominated for the award. The Prime Minister’s Oranga Tamariki Awards recognise and celebrate care-experienced young people. The recipients flew to Wellington from around the country earlier this month for a night in a hotel and a meeting with the Prime Minister in her office in the Beehive. Nataliya also receives $3,000 for her studies.

Nataliya, who has been enrolled in the NZ Certificate in Cookery [Level 4] at  EIT | Te Pūkenga, says meeting Jacinda Ardern was a fantastic experience.

“I am very grateful for having the opportunity to have met Jacinda Ardern. She was so sweet and inspirational,” says Nataliya.

She was nominated for the award by her social worker, who she says is now her best friend.

“She is a real good role model in my life.”

With this experience behind her now, Nataliya is preparing to continue her studies with the NZ Diploma in Cookery (Advanced) [Level 5] – Cookery strand. It is a journey that started when she enrolled in the NZ Certificate in Cookery [Level 3] last year, having left Napier Girls’ High School in Year 12 to follow her dream.

Nataliya says she has been inspired by her aunty, Darcy Turner, who has done cookery programmes at EIT and will be joining Nataliya in the Diploma programme next year.

Nataliya knows she has found the right career and her aspiration is to be a head chef.

The recipients at the Prime Minister’s Oranga Tamariki Awards.

“We didn’t have much food (growing up), so I can cook anything out of nothing. I’m really good at just being creative with food and using whatever’s around and being sustainable.”

“Growing up, I learned to cook my own meals ever since I was seven. I used to cook my family meals and I just got better and better at cooking.”

Nataliya is pursuing her passion by working part-time at Diva Bar and Bistro in Havelock North.

“ I really like the food there because it’s what I’m interested in. I’m really good at cooking hearty meals like stews, soups and roast lambs.

“I want to do level five next year because we go into the more technical stuff and that’s what I want to further my learning into cooking.”

She says the job at Diva came about after she had done work experience there for her programme.

“ I got this job doing it as work experience and they offered me a part-time job because I study full-time. So when I finish my course, I want to start working full-time as a kitchenhand or something.”

For an 18-year-old, Nataliya is clear about her journey forward.

“I want to get my cookery diploma, but I also want to do accounting, cause I started accounting in high school. The aim is to manage my own food truck. I want to get into the whole business side of it as I don’t want to just be a chef, I also want to manage my own business.”

Te Pūkenga student Nataliya McRae (left) goes on stage to receive a Prime Minister’s Oranga Tamariki Award.

But before that, she wants to get some life experience and travel abroad.

“I want to go work on cruise ships in Europe and I want to work in the kitchens over there. I want to learn how to cook and then I want to come back to New Zealand and start my own food truck.”

Glenn Fulcher, EIT | Te Pūkenga Head of the School of Tourism and Hospitality, congratulated Nataliya on her achievement and wished her well in her chosen career.

“Nataliya is a good example of following one’s dreams and using study to build on knowledge.”