Topics: Education, Employment

Happy puku helping those in need

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Te Tuinga Trust in Tauranga have launched a food catering initiative that helps educate those that have experienced homelessness and unemployment. Happy Puku is led by Chef Stephen Wilson of Ngāti Ranginui who has international experienced in cooking and now has come home to help.

“This is a happy puku it's buzzing at the moment we basically created a catering company and I also teach cooking classes to those who are in the emergency housing so I am empowering them with the skill of knowing how to cook and budget,” says Wilson.

Working with Te Tuinga Trust an agency that provides support to those who have found themselves homeless.

Chef Wilson is using his 26 years' experience working in restaurants overseas to help run this 12-week cooking programme.

“I think giving them the skills to know how to cook good kai, healthy kai gives them self-esteem and basically hope they feel that they are in a hopeless situation finding housing but also a skill that's the joy of what I do,” says Wilson.

Happy Puku is part of the wraparound service that Te Tuinga runs which also includes budgeting and counselling while providing a roof to those who have found themselves homeless in Tauranga. So far they have housed 47 adults and 70 children and now can help with employment.

Stephen's brother Tommy says the concept for the programme is really focused on helping people.

“This is a place where we can do the tutoring, so we formed a partnership with the local rugby club and today it the kick off to that.”

Happy Puku not only wants to make sure people have been fed well but that they leave being happy with their service.