Just Cook Tika Tunu pilot programme at Auckland City Mission

Just Cook Tika Tunu was piloted in the new Auckland City Mission HomeGround facility in response to a demand for a practical cooking and nutrition programme to teach participants basic cooking skills, build confidence and motivation to cook as well provide healthy recipes for whanau living on a limited budget.  Practical skills covered included knife skills, food safety principles, extending meals using cheaper plant-based protein foods and label reading. The programme primarily focused on cooking culturally appropriate meals using cheaper seasonally available ingredients.

The programme was delivered by two teacher trained facilitators from NZ Nutrition Foundation and was supported by 2 students, Trent and Melody and HomeGround staff member, Sam Morrison.

Participant celebrated completion of the programme by preparing a special meal for their whanau, friends and the Mission support staff.  All participants spoke of their pride in completing the course and their surprise at what they had learned: the amount of sugar and salt in pre-prepared foods, the many ways that vegetables can be added to dishes, the amount of money that could be saved by exchanging ingredients for seasonal items and developing their confidence to cook.

Evaluation data showed that all participants showed an improvement in their knowledge of food for themselves, as well as improving their motivation and confidence to cook. 


Participant feedback:

“I have learnt how easy it is to cook healthy affordable food. Loved the social side- people coming together around food

“Learning how to extend meat further and learning methods/ recipes in order to use ingredients that I otherwise wouldn’t know how to use”

“Getting to eat what I helped make”

“Learning about healthier choices we can add to meals to make them go further and be better for health”

“Cooking as a team, learning new skills in cooking and eating healthier”

Making food I have never made before and cooking with an awesome team”

Sam Morrison the Community Development Lead at HomeGround provided the following feedback:

“The Tika Tunu cooking and nutrition programme has had a huge impact on our community here at HomeGround Apartments. Kathy and Anna created a welcoming, accessible, engaging and context specific learning environment that enabled participants to share their own skills, ideas, interests and creativity. Their knowledge and passion empowered participants to develop their confidence and desire to cook food that is both nutritious and cost effective – however the outcomes from this programme have extended far beyond that! This programme has also helped to build social connections and a sense of belonging here at HomeGround. This programme has shown us what we are capable of as a community and has inspired us to explore how we continue to develop our skills, knowledge and community through food. We sincerely hope that Kathy, Anna and the NZNF will continue on this journey with us into the future!”

Food security continues to be a problem across the country. We are currently working with community groups in Northland, Rotorua and Nelson to develop cooking and nutrition programmes which address food security. If you would like to support our ongoing work in vulnerable communities, please feel free to contact Jane at to discuss how you can help or you can donate through our website

Last modified: November 14, 2022