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Celebrated Wellington restaurant Hiakai cuts back to two nights a week amid staff shortages

Hiakai, one of Aotearoa’s top restaurants, is temporarily cutting back operations to two nights a week after struggling to find trained staff.

The restaurant, due to open on January 21 after closing for the summer, shared their struggles with their customers via their newsletter, saying:

“Due to the ongoing difficulties we have faced as a small, independent and 100% Kiwi owned business, we have decided to make a few significant changes to protect the team we do have,’

“We are reducing the nights we are open for service from four nights a week to two nights a week (Fridays and Saturdays). We are also not offering any seatings at the Chef’s counter.”

Hiakai, which means “hungry” in te reo Māori, is owned and operated by renowned chef Monique Fiso and was named the best indigenous food experience in the world by Lonely Planet. Fiso’s book, Hiakai: Modern Māori Cuisine, won an award at the 2021 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. She and her restaurant have also featured on Netflix.

They hope to operating at full capacity in the near future and thanked everyone for their understanding.

The industry was going through its most severe skilled labour shortage in decades, the restaurant said.

“Hospitality, like all industries and businesses that deal with genuine human interaction and connection have been greatly affected by the last eighteen months.

“We have an incredible team but we have struggled to find other qualified and experienced people to join us.”

Hospitality around the country is struggling to find staff with border closures stopping overseas workers coming in.

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