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Alternative titles for this job

Kitchenhands wash dishes and clean the kitchen and serving areas in eating places. They may also help kitchen staff prepare food.


Kitchenhands usually earn

$23 per hour

Source: Hospitality NZ, 2018.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a kitchenhand are good due to a shortage of workers.


Pay for kitchenhands varies depending on experience, but most earn between minimum wage and a little more.

Sources: Hospitality New Zealand, 2018; and, 2018.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Kitchenhands may do some or all of the following:

  • wash dishes and remove rubbish
  • unload and put away food and other supplies
  • clean all kitchen surfaces, including the floors and equipment
  • wash, peel and chop vegetables
  • prepare other food if needed.

Skills and knowledge

Kitchenhands need to have:

  • knowledge of cleaning methods and chemicals
  • knowledge of kitchen safety and food hygiene
  • skill preparing food and using kitchen equipment.

Working conditions


  • may work long hours that can include weekend, early morning and late night shifts
  • work in kitchens in conditions that can be hot, noisy and stressful
  • may travel to work at off-site functions.

What's the job really like?

Soul Sosaia

Soul Sosaia


Work keeps Soul busy in the kitchen

"All sorts of tasks keep me busy. I clean all the plates and make sure the dishes are done, and I also do prep if there's food that needs to be done. Making röstis, cutting chicken up, cutting the onions and tomatoes. You get the chance to have a go at cooking food too."

Focus helps in challenging situations

"You've got to be fast at your job. The biggest challenge in a working environment like this is when there's a lot of people – you get put under that pressure. But once you get your mind focused on it, you understand what you need to do every day."

Teamwork makes the kitchen tick

"Coming from a sport background – I played league - there's no one that's better than anyone else. At the end of the day it's a team, it's no different. Everyone just helps you out, pushes you through whatever task needs doing."

A chance to give back to the community

"I'm part of the Wellington Hospitality Group – every month chefs from our kitchen go to the night shelter to support and help out. We serve meals such as fish 'n chips and burgers. It's great to be a part of that and put a bit back into our community."

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements to become a kitchenhand. However, it may be useful for kitchenhands to complete the New Zealand Certificate in Hospitality (Level 2) while working. Industry training organisation ServiceIQ oversees qualifications for on-the-job training.

Secondary education

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a kitchenhand. However, home economics (food and nutrition) is useful.

Personal requirements

Kitchenhands need to be:

  • organised, and able to work well in a team
  • able to work well under pressure
  • able to show initiative
  • good at following instructions and paying attention to detail.

It’s all to do with team effort. If you work with a good team, everything goes right.

Photo: Soul Sosaia

Soul Sosaia


Useful experience

Useful experience for kitchenhands includes:

  • work as a cleaner
  • work as waiter/waitress or cafe worker
  • any work to do with food.

Physical requirements

Kitchenhands need to be reasonably fit because they spend long periods on their feet and may carry heavy crates of food.

Find out more about training

0800 863 693 - -
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What are the chances of getting a job?

Good demand for kitchenhands

Job opportunities for kitchenhands are good because low unemployment and an increase in job vacancies means there is a shortage of people available to do this role.

According to the Census, 16,374 kitchenhands worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Types of employers varied

Kitchenhands may work in:

  • cafes and restaurants
  • hotels, bars and pubs
  • catering companies
  • kitchens at schools, universities, hospitals, care homes and government buildings
  • kitchens at private companies.


  • Bamber, I, special projects manager, Wellington Hospitality Group, interview, July 2018.
  • Clearwater, M, senior adviser, Service IQ – Workforce Development, interview, June 2020.
  • Guy, A, 'Shortage of Skilled Hospitality Staff as Kiwis Shun Entry-level Jobs', 23 June 2017, (
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
  • Waldren, N, general manager, Restaurant Association of New Zealand, interview, September 2018.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Kitchenhands may progress to become cooks or chefs with further experience or training, or move into other restaurant roles.

Soul Sosaia slices meat in a kitchen

Kitchenhands help prepare food in restaurant kitchens

Last updated 23 May 2023