In 2020, aged 54, Mick decided to pursue an interest and enrol in an NMIT cooking course.
Two days after he finished the Level 4 course, Mick and his wife took over Nikau Lodge in Kaikoura— a property they fell in love with after the first COVID-19 lockdown.
A few quiet years followed without international tourists, where they took their time putting their stamp on the place while Mick worked in a few restaurants to get to know the locals.
Now bookings for Nikau Lodge are coming in thick and fast. They recently hosted a team from Australia’s Channel Nine show, Getaway Travel, which recorded an episode on Kaikoura and features the lodge.
Mick found the skills he learned on the cookery course at NMIT gave him invaluable confidence for his accommodation business.
“We do café styled breakfasts at Nikau Lodge, rather than just boxes of cereal,” Mick said.
But if ten guests are wanting their breakfast at the same time, I would have struggled to manage without the knowledge I gained on the course.”
“Without everything I had learnt, I would have been knackered.”
Mick also felt that completing the training gave him credibility.
“I wanted to know what I was doing was safe. Now I have a piece of paper that says I’ve been trained properly and that I know what I’m doing. That gives me confidence,” he said.
Going back to learning after so many years was a struggle for Mick, but he loved every minute of it.
“All the tutors were absolutely fantastic,” he said.
“Nothing was too much, and they were all more than happy to share their knowledge and offer support, even after we had all graduated.”
Chris Fortune, Cookery tutor, said the teaching team has seen a change in ākonga over time, with a real diversity of age and life skills now common in their classes.
"If you have a passion for anything to do with Cookery or Manaakitanga, then you can find your place here at NMIT," he said.
"Mick was an astute and focused learner that added diversity and maturity to our training kitchen and restaurant, the Rata Room.(external link)"