Originally published on Hospitality Business 7 July 2014:
Judging an omelette cook-off isn’t usually in the line of duty for Prime Minister John Key. But when he officially opened NZMA’s new Sylvia Park Campus on Friday, he took on the guise of MasterChef judge with ease.
The Prime Minister and fellow arbiter Pacific Island Affairs Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga named cookery student Thi Thu Huong Vu’s omelette winner of the day, before moving onto the provider’s bar training area to sample cocktails created especially for the occasion by Level 5 hospitality students.
The tour was part of the grand opening ceremony and unveiling of the plaque for the new state of the art hospitality and cookery school. Around 250 staff, students and guests packed out NZMA’s Café Fusion to listen to the Prime Minister, who told students they were studying in the right place for a booming career.
“Many of you here are getting training in hospitality. The great news is that I’m the Minister of Tourism and we earn about $10 billion a year from this sector. We have 2.7 million visitors per year. A lot of them are from Australia, but many are also from China, which is our fastest growing market. Training in hospitality leads people to jobs in this sector,” said Mr Key.
“You can feel pretty optimistic about how our economy is going and your capacity to get jobs - 84,000 jobs were created in the last 12 months. We think unemployment will be down to 4.5% in the very foreseeable future, so there will be plenty of jobs for you to go to. By studying here you are doing exactly the right thing.”
As well as commenting on the campus’s stellar facilities, Mr Key was impressed with its multicultural flavour.
“One great thing about this facility is that it has people from across New Zealand and also from overseas. From the government’s point of view education is increasingly becoming a large export earner for us, and is one of the things that has helped make New Zealand more multicultural. One third of the people who live in Auckland are not from New Zealand. We’re attracting the brightest and best from around the world.”
Mr Lotu-Iiga, the MP for Maungakiekie, also spoke and stressed how delighted he was to have NZMA Sylvia Park in his electorate.
“This is a great facility. NZMA is a great institution that serves many people across this city. The results you have achieved are outstanding,” the Minister said.
The ceremony, which also included a powhiri and waiata from NZMA’s own Kapa Haka group, Te Whare Wananga Matauranga Whakahaere o Aotearoa, concluded with a special morning tea for the Ministers, prepared by the Level 5 cookery students.
Pictured here is the Prime Minister with NZMA Chairman Tim Cullinane.