Social Cooking

Teaching is a craft. It requires attention to detail, open responses to the learning task, clear delivery of instructions and willingness to learn. 

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‘Nourish Relax Show’

The learner is actively involved while the task is being taught and then fully engaged right through to the final outcome.


As part of the set up for the upcoming year, the staff at Wairakei Primary had an opportunity to experience being the learner. Collectively they enjoyed a day where their knowledge is either developed or reinforced. They are given challenges to participate in. This time as a self selected team. This all occurs under the umbrella of a staff based programme called ‘Nourish Relax Show’.

Feel Fresh Nutrition

The outcome was a feast of food delights. Phoebe Smith from Feel Fresh Nutrition walked the team through a series of ideas on how good quality food will improve their wellbeing. The use of water and the sugar highs and lows that occur during the day.

Social Cooking

Social cooking had set up the challenge in the hall providing all the cooking equipment and the food to be used during the session.

There was apprehension in the air. The sense of the unknown. Random chatter as teams settled into their roles and finally a calmness that settled once the explanation of the challenge was given. 

Was this challenge completed in silence?  No. The room was filled with laughter  with each team having a different tone. Some teams settled into their work as a well oiled machine while others took time to sort out their systems.

One hour to complete the cooking of three dishes and develop a skit or oral presentation where everyone had to be involved.

The criteria for success was based on teamwork, presentation of the food, taste, and the final group advertising their meal as the best. Why should one team win over another?

Everyday teachers ask their students to do this. Form a group, hear the instructions and work together as a team.  Outcomes are slightly different although the intention is the same. It was fun to be reminded of what it is like to be a learner.

‘Nourish Relax Show’ has been occurring at Wairakei Primary School for 12 years.  Each year is different and unknown by the staff until they walk into the room. The challenge is always the same – to look after our wellbeing, have time together and learn something new and to relax as a group.  

Social Cooking and their team, alongside Phoebe, create the perfect atmosphere for learning as an adult. And the food was amazing.

And because Mrs Farquhar doesn't allow hand gestures in the photos!

2024 Farquhar

Paula Farquhar

The long snaking line of students at the skipping rope. Jump in, jump out and off they go, happy and excited. Some still have to "Learn It". Others have reached the "Prove it" stage. Many will remain, comforted to be in a safe inclusive group.

Since 2010, I have been the passionate Principal of this vibrant, successful, and innovative school. It's without hesitation, I say I'm focused on "accelerating growth for student learning outcomes".

My style is fostering a culture of professionalism formed on a solid foundation of critical reflection. My own professionalism is expanded through a network of advanced educational practitioners. Practitioners who extend my theoretical, philosophical and pedagogical base. Fundamental in my belief, is strategic dialogue will map learning and teaching so innovation and creativity can flow into an innovative curriculum.

From considerable leadership experience, I know the school's vision has to be "crafted collaboratively". The adaptive vision must be student driven with ambitious academic goals. Raising success hinges on repeatedly asking: "does this decision help realise the vision?"


  • Sue Green Feb 12, 2024, 2:17 PM (5 months ago)

    Friends, food and fun. What a great way to start the school year. Such a positive boost to all the staff.

  • Sam Feb 9, 2024, 1:26 PM (5 months ago)

    A great day spending time with teachers and staff. An awesome start to the year building connections.

  • Kim Stevens Feb 9, 2024, 1:22 PM (5 months ago)

    What a great way to start 2024! Reconnecting with colleagues, learning with and from each other, in a fun, engaging way. The food was delicious too.

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