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Former military chef and now Bachelor in Adult Education graduate Lucy Pearce.

She was once scared to try new things, but now Lucy Pearce could be a walking prospectus of programmes to study at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

She’s just completed her Bachelor in Adult Education and says if you want something bad enough, give it your all.

“I would encourage anyone who has a zest to give back to others to sign up for the Bachelor in Adult Education and not let anyone tell you it’s not possible, because anything is possible.”

Born in Hamilton, Lucy says as a consequence of being separated from her Tainui mother and siblings from the age of five and raised with her English father, she struggled through school.

“I found it really challenging, I couldn’t find anything I related to. It wasn’t until I was put into a Māori girls’ hostel that I met girls who were studying to become chefs. I signed up for a three-year course and finished top of my class in two years.”

She loved the training so much she was able to snap up a scholarship to train in Switzerland for six months and ended up staying in Europe for six years.

“I gained invaluable experience and got a job in a Military hotel in the centre of London. I was in a male-dominated kitchen but managed to rise up to become sous chef. We catered for many military groups as well as members of the Royal family.”

But despite her career success, her childhood trauma of ‘who am I?’ lead her to learn more about her Ngāti Māhuta side. In 2010 she got the courage and enrolled to do a Certificate in Te Reo Māori.

“Well what a shock! I had no clue but I stuck with it and completed the course both to my surprise and the Kaiako. This gave me the gateway I needed and I wanted more. I went to my marae and all the events that came up. It was an eye opener. I introduced myself to everyone I could. I researched my whānau roots which is a journey that still continues.”

While maintaining her work as a chef Lucy went on to complete a Certificate in Tikanga Marae, a Certificate and then a Diploma in Te Arataki Manu Kōrero, a Diploma in Te Ara Reo level 5 and a Diploma in Aupikitanga in Tāmaki.

“I then came to an impasse,” she says.

“How could I use this experience I’d gained and along with my cooking experience and use these skills to give back to my iwi and hapū and community?”

That’s when her chance to complete a Diploma in Adult Education came along.

“I was lucky enough to have an amazing kaiako who was so into teaching and she was just buzzing every time you saw her. The way she taught was infectious. I wanted more. I was so inspired after completion I signed up for the Bachelor of Adult Education and now I’m in my third and final year.”

Lucy says her ideal goal is to be part of a kaupapa where she can give back to whānau and hapū through the marae by using both her cooking and teaching skills.

“I’d like to inspire our rangatahi that anything is possible, by helping them to achieve their goals and aspirations in life. Learning new skills is not scary but exciting. If I can do it anyone can.”

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