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Loss Of New Zealand Cooking Skills

10 March, 2005

Loss Of New Zealand Cooking Skills … Can Kiwi Kids Only Txt For Takeout?

Health Minister Annette King today joined Wattie’s in launching a major initiative to get kiwi kids cooking. Wattie’s Project Cook was launched at South Wellington Intermediate School in Wellington this afternoon, signalling a major push to inspire schools and families to get kids cooking.

Wattie’s Senior Nutritionist, Julie Dick says, “Our research shows there are only two cooking activities that kids regularly do on their own – cooking toast and making a sandwich. In fact, the children surveyed were more confident in installing software on a computer, playing a DVD or sending a text message than cooking a meal from a recipe.”

“However, the good news is that the Colmar Brunton research* confirms children are keen to learn to cook and their parents also back the idea. 99 percent of parents surveyed said a combination of school and home-based cooking and nutrition education was ideal. The children were also enthusiastic with 94 percent of the 9-12 year olds surveyed in favour of learning about cooking and how to eat more healthily.”

Wattie’s has responded with the development of Project Cook, a school teaching resource including lesson plans for five recipes covering a range of basic cooking techniques and an accompanying video.

In launching Project Cook, Health Minister Annette King said, “One of things I really enjoy doing is cooking for my family and friends. I learnt to cook at quite a young age, guided by my mother, my grandmother and my school. Cooking is fun, and the aim of Project Cook is to get children cooking in a fun and interactive way. I really support that approach.”

The initiative has the backing of dietitians with New Zealand Dietetic Association Executive Officer Carole Gibb saying, “At around age nine children can master fundamental cooking skills, making this the best time to capture their interest in and enthusiasm for cooking.”

Carole says, “Cooking skills can have a strong correlation to good diet and nutrition habits. People who know how to cook understand the composition of different meal options, meaning they’re better equipped to make healthy choices even when dining out, ordering takeout or selecting pre-prepared meals.”

Julie says Wattie’s has a long tradition of nutrition education and Project Cook represents a significant investment for the company in the future health and nutrition status of young people. “The link between cooking skills and nutrition knowledge is well established, so by teaching children cooking skills they’ll have a much greater chance of being healthy adults.”

The Home Economic and Technology Teachers Association of New Zealand (HETTANZ) provided input during Project Cook's development, ensuring it was consistent with the curriculum and would be well-received by teachers.

The Project Cook Report: The state of kids’ cooking – can our kids only txt for take-out? summarises the key research results and answers the question of why cooking is such an important skill to have.

The research prompted the development of the Project Cook school resource which was created in consultation with food writers, dietitians and home economics teachers in preparation for the 2005 school year. It is being distributed free of charge to 1,600 intermediate schools for use in the Year 7&8 technology curriculum. Project Cook explores the ingredients, techniques, technology and nutrition behind each of the recipes.

The Project Cook Report and all Wattie’s Project Cook resources are available in the ‘Just for Kids’ section at

Can our kids only text for takeout? Research undertaken by Colmar Brunton on behalf of Heinz Wattie’s Ltd, May 2004. Sample of 294 parents and 439 children (aged 8-14, from which 105 children aged 9-12 were asked further questions).


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