New culinary degree feeds top talent to the Bay of Plenty hospitality scene

Toi Ohomai | Te Pūkenga has launched the Bachelor of Culinary Arts degree at its Tauranga and Rotorua campuses, offering exciting opportunities for both students and businesses throughout the region. The Tauranga Business Chamber spoke with chef and tutor Peter Blakeway on the importance of the degree to the local hospitality sector.


The future of the Bay of Plenty food and hospitality sector will soon be boosted by graduates of the Bachelor of Culinary Arts degree at Toi Ohomai | Te Pūkenga. Graduates will cultivate specialised culinary techniques and creative skills, develop business knowledge, and gain real-world experience with local businesses. Career pathways are varied, and include chef, recipe developer, food stylist, writer, product entrepreneur and food producer.

Offering the degree in Tauranga and Rotorua addresses the unmet demand in the North Island; previously the degree was only available at Dunedin’s Otago Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga. The first intake is in February 2024 and applications are open now.

Toi Ohomai | Te Pūkenga culinary arts tutor Peter Blakeway says there are several factors behind offering the degree in Tauranga and Rotorua. There’s the chance to tap into and amplify the vibrant ecosystem of burgeoning food scenes, enriched by a mix of culturally diverse, traditional, and cutting-edge culinary ventures, that are present in both cities.

There’s also a pressing need for specialised culinary education in the region to provide locals with an avenue to pursue elite education without relocating, he says. “The rich cultural backdrop of Tauranga and Rotorua lends itself to a unique culinary exploration, allowing students to meld traditional techniques with modern gastronomy.”

Peter also anticipates that the unique attributes of the Bay of Plenty, combined with the allure of the specialised degree, will draw students from outside the region, infusing communities with new talents and perspectives.

Talent source for businesses now in their own backyard

Businesses have a lot to gain from those who graduate from local programmes. Peter recognises that the degree’s multifaceted approach ensures graduates are deeply embedded in the local culinary landscape, making them uniquely attuned to regional tastes, preferences, and market dynamics.

“For the region’s businesses, this translates to access to a talent pool that is versatile, innovative, and deeply connected to the community. With the potential to attract students from beyond the Bay of Plenty, local businesses stand to benefit from a continual influx of fresh, diverse ideas.”

The Bachelor of Culinary Arts degree provides a holistic foundation for budding entrepreneurs. Beyond culinary techniques, it offers operations management, finance, and marketing, with insights into food trends, sustainability, and innovation. “This comprehensive approach ensures that graduates are not just chefs but are also equipped to be successful restaurateurs, food producers, or culinary innovators. They’ll have the tools to turn their culinary passion into a viable business venture, making a mark in the competitive food industry,” Peter says.

Practical experience is also paramount in the culinary world.

“Collaborating with local businesses provides students with a tangible grasp of the challenges and opportunities within the culinary realm,” says Peter. “Applying their academic learnings in real-world scenarios, they nurture skills like problem-solving, teamwork, and adaptability. They can also seamlessly integrate into professional settings, adding immediate value to a business.”

Learn more about the Toi Ohomai | Te Pūkenga Bachelor of Culinary Arts degree here

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