Toi Ohomai/Wairakei Partnership Offers Students’ 5-Star Experience

Anahere Whatu

Thursday, 08 Mar 2018

As one of New Zealand’s premier tourist destinations, Taupō has always punched above its weight in terms of hospitality.


In order to ensure that the community has access to rewarding careers in the hospitality industry and beyond, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology’s Taupō campus has formed a strong working relationship with the highly-acclaimed Wairakei Resort.


Focussed on providing ‘real world’ work experience to the institute’s hospitality students outside of the classroom, the partnership also offers a variety of career opportunities to those who step up to embrace them.


“Wairakei believes in making community connections, especially with learning institutes and the youth here in Taupō,” says Jane Thew, Human Resources Manager, Wairakei Resort.


“It is incredible for us to be able to give the students work experience prior to their graduation, then employ them into a range of areas throughout the hotel, develop them into the jobs they are after and help set up their career path for the future.”


To ensure the hand-picked students don’t get overwhelmed working on the resort’s various large scale functions, Jane says Wairakei buddies each student up with a team leader, supervisor or manager for guidance and support right from the word go.


“On one event alone last year, we had 18 students working for us. By ensuring they have a memorable experience with us, rather than an overwhelming one, we strengthen the moment where they step back and go ‘Hey I did that, I nailed it’. Seeing that point of accomplishment reflected in their eyes is fantastic.”


One of those proud students is New Zealand Certificate in Food and Beverage Service (Level 4), Restaurant Services strand star, Anahere Whatu. Stating she has been a part of the local industry since she was a little kid helping her Nan’s Mr Chips business deliver to local businesses, including Wairakei Resort, she is excited to now be included among the historic hotel’s expansive team.


“The thing I enjoy most about this industry, is the whole idea of serving people. Helping people and getting to work with amazing clients and guests. Thanks to Toi Ohomai and Wairakei I’m doing exactly that.”


In the nine months she has been working at the resort, Ana has helped to host the New Zealand rugby union and served then Prime Minister, Bill English. With her experiences shifting her career goals towards the area of event management, she is thankful to all those who have supported her to this point.


“Studying at Toi Ohomai is cool. I got this job through my tutor, Sarah Hammersley, and even now, if I get stuck on an issue at work I turn to her and go ‘how do I get around this?’ and she is always like ‘Oh that’s fine. You just do this, this and this’. She is really helpful.”


With the partnership between Toi Ohomai and Wairakei well-established over a period of years, Jane says she enjoys the ability to pop into the campus and present to students like Ana, what the demands are of the modern hospitality industry.


“I like to be involved with what they are doing in the classrooms, so I’ll just go and say hi and get to know the students myself. I can see the ones that are going to best fit into our culture and Sarah is great at knowing who will be capable, not star struck in front of our clients or overwhelmed by a room of 600 people.


“I really take my hat off to the people I work with. People who understand how important it is to wrap themselves around our students and to give them the opportunity to succeed - to provide that career progression. And to the students who see the opportunity at hand and make the most of it.


“That’s what I say to them, ‘Wairakei will be long hours and hard work, however you will learn skills that will open up the world to you here, you’ll have fun and you’ll remember this experience for the rest of your life’.”