Aroha is the supervisor of the Dinner Ladies bulk storage freezer – and she drives the forklift! She and her team are in charge of our stock control on and off site. They replenish the stock each day and make sure the packing team has the correct products and quantities to send out to all our customers.
Where did you grow up, Aroha?
In Kaikoura – a small town on the South Island of New Zealand. Then I moved to Napier on the North Island, before I moved to Sydney when I was 16. I’ve lived here for 20 years.
How do you like to spend your time?
I’m a full-time working mum of an 11-year-old son, who is my pride and joy. In my spare time I enjoy travelling – mostly to Hawaii to visit my mum and, of course, to New Zealand to visit the rest of my family. But I love to travel anywhere I can!
I enjoy going to the gym every day after work, playing netball, and watching my son play sports. Mostly I just love spending time with family and friends, making memories.
Where did you work before Dinner Ladies?
I learnt to drive a forklift, and got my forklift licence, when I was 17 – before I learnt to drive a car! I worked as a warehouse supervisor for a polythene and plastic sheeting supplier before I started at Dinner Ladies this year. For 10 years I led a small team receiving, dispatching, packing, loading and unloading trucks and containers every day. Before that I was in the freight industry at Sydney airport.
Although all my jobs have been in a male-dominated environment, I’ve enjoyed them all. I don’t particularly like sitting in one spot all day, so a mixture of both physical and computer work is perfect for me.
What do you like most about your job?
I see my job as just like playing a game of Tetris! The Dinner Ladies kitchen staff work hard to produce a lot of stock – so I am constantly creating space so that the daily stock can be moved and rotated. I build pallets of stock to go out – just like the Tetris line dropping down – but before I know it, all the empty locations are filled again! What makes it so satisfying is that at the end of the day I walk out of clean, well-organised freezer. I think that’s the mum in me!
I’m not in the freezer all day, thank goodness, as –20 does get quite chilly! I come out of the freezer and do the theory side of my job, which is why I love my mixed role. I never get bored.
What do you cook at home? Are you a good cook?
Am I a good cook? Hmmmm. I can cook and I don’t get any complaints from my family, yet! Or not too often! My favourite food to cook, when I have time, would have to be barbecue smoked ribs or a nicely cooked roast meat with all the trimmings – or, even better, a Hangi along with some traditional Kiwi dishes such as fried bread, marinated raw fish and vinegar-marinated raw mussels.
My favourite sweet food, hands down, would be lolly cake.
Any kitchen disasters?
I’ve used plain flour instead of self-raising in baking a couple of times, and made fried bread that turned out like hard rocks!
What’s your favourite Dinner Ladies dish ever?
I don’t eat pasta because it gives me a tummy problem, but I ordered the Mac and Cheese for my son and it was amazing! He just made it sound so delicious that I simply couldn't resist, and he was right! It was delicious indeed.
My job is pretty physical and I love to go to the gym every afternoon after work, so eating enough protein is important to me. The Dinner Ladies have some amazing meat dishes on the menu to help me get my daily protein intake. My favourites so far are the BBQ pulled pork, slow-cooked lamb shanks and huli-huli chicken – they’re really flavoursome and tasty. Luckily for me, the Dinner Ladies add new meat dishes to the menu every month. I’ll be trying them all!
What would be your dream job if you weren’t at Dinner Ladies.
I love to experience other cultures, food and traditions. As a New Zealand Maori I really value culture and traditional ways, so I would have to say being a host on a travel TV show. I’d love to travel and try all different things around the world every day for a job.
Feeling as organised as Aroha? Fill your freezer with her favourite Dinner Ladies dishes today by clicking here.