Kiwi hospitality is being showcased to the world during the Rugby World Cup – and New Zealand Management Academies has a starring role.
More than 100 of the provider’s top hospitality students have been snapped up by Eden Park and the Waikato Stadium to work in hospitality outlets, corporate boxes and security throughout the games.
Business Development Manager for Redfish, Aaron Ah Chee, said NZMA students were a natural choice for stadium employers.
“We regularly get feedback about our students’ skills, presentation and professionalism. They stand out, and you can definitely tell an NZMA-trained student when you see one,” said Aaron.
“This year the spotlight has clearly been on the RWC and we have been working with our hospitality employers to help them prepare for this for the past 12 months. Eden Park Catering (EPC) is one of our key partners and we have worked very closely with them to support their recruitment needs through this busy time.”
NZMA has a formal partnership with EPC and is also one of just two private training establishments in the country who were approved to deliver EventStarNZ, the hospitality training programme developed by the Hospitality Standards Institute and the RWC 2011 hospitality steering group. Eighty five percent of staff employed by Eden Park during the Rugby World Cup are required to have an EventStarNZ qualification.
Staffing and Training Manager at EPC, Maria Syme, is thrilled to have NZMA students on board for what is the country’s largest ever sporting event.
“Eden Park has had great success with hiring some of NZMA’s most skilled students who have continued to excel to be part of our vision. We have developed a strong and productive partnership, which enables NZMA students to seek opportunities with us,” said Maria.
Seta Monolagi is one of those students. Seta is currently studying towards her Diploma in Hospitality Management at NZMA’s Auckland Central Academy, and with support from Redfish, landed a job with EPC throughout the RWC.
“On the opening night there was an incredible buzzing vibe. I felt proud to be a Kiwi working at a time when New Zealand was on show to the world,” said Seta.
Many of the highly-experienced NZMA hospitality tutors have also been employed, including Auckland Central Academy’s Moana Ese, who said she would not have traded working at the Eden Park opening ceremony for anything.
“The performers did such an incredible job that everyone in the stadium was speechless, proud and emotional all at the same time. If anyone in the world did not know who or what New Zealand is, they sure do now!”
As well as enabling her to be part of the RWC, Moana said the role gave her the opportunity to stay current with her skilled trade, as well as see many of her NZMA students “in action”.
“Eden Park managers frequently tell me how much they enjoy having NZMA students working on game nights. I feel very proud to see them in their professional uniforms and watching them put into action everything they are learning in the classroom at NZMA.”
Further south, NZMA Waikato hospitality graduate Sonny Perawiti is “ecstatic” to be part of the RWC.
“Security firm Red Badge approached me during my NZMA studies and asked if I’d like to work at the Rugby World Cup,” said Sonny, who is also a bartender/kitchen hand at Hamilton’s Foundation Bar.
“I’m now one of the field security guards. My job is to make sure people don’t enter the field, watch for intoxication and throwing of bottles and cans and pretty much ensure everyone’s having a good time.
“It’s pretty full on because you have to keep your wits about you – no turning and watching the game, just standing still and staring at all these people having a blast. It’s awesome though.”
One of Sonny’s NZMA tutors Brent Edwards is also working round the clock, juggling his NZMA tutoring work with his role as duty/bar manager for Hamilton bar, House on Hood. Brent organised the official dinner for Prime Minster John Key and the Prime Minister of Japan and is also busy looking after Welsh supporters.
“The House Bar is the unofficial Welsh Embassy, and they all come here for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s great! This is the biggest hospitality event for Hamilton since the British Lions Tour. It’s bigger than the V8’s. The atmosphere is electric,” said Brent.
“I have recruited some of NZMA’s hospitality students to help me during the festivities. I know they’re well-trained and I am happy to be part of their RWC dream.”
NZMA has helped to ensure that locals and visitors alike enjoy great Kiwi hospitality during the Rugby World Cup – and they have embraced the opportunity with open arms.
NZMA General Manager International Sales, Leanda Bekker said it gave NZMA students and staff the chance of a lifetime.
“Working at Eden Park for the RWC has been a fantastic experience. I feel quite privileged to have been offered a position working alongside our students as it’s great to see them shine in the workplace. This is one of the main reasons I signed up, but it’s also good to keep up with trends in the industry, so the RWC has given me the opportunity to not only be a part of the buzz of this exciting event, but also to keep my skills and qualifications updated,” Leanda said.