Waiter/Waitress Kaitiaki Tēpu Kai

Waiters/waitresses serve food and drinks in restaurants, hotels, clubs and other eating places.

Waiters/waitresses may do some or all of the following:

  • serve food and drinks
  • set and prepare tables for customers
  • hand out menus and wine lists
  • answer questions about the menu and take orders
  • clear tables and clean the restaurant
  • clean and polish cutlery and glasses
  • restock food and drinks.

Physical Requirements

Waiters/waitresses need:

  • to have a clean and tidy appearance
  • to be reasonably fit and healthy as they are on their feet all day.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for waiters/waitresses includes:

  • restaurant, cafe or catering work
  • work involving customer service
  • retail work.

Personal Qualities

Waiters/waitresses need to be:

  • friendly, helpful and polite
  • good at serving people
  • good at remembering things
  • able to work well under pressure
  • quick, efficient and organised
  • reliable and punctual
  • able to communicate and work well in a team.


Waiters/waitresses need to have:

  • knowledge about menu items and wine
  • food and drink service skills
  • knowledge of food health and safety
  • selling skills.



  • work full or part-time hours, and may work evenings and weekends
  • work in the dining areas of restaurants, hotels, clubs and other places where food and drink is served
  • spend a lot of time on their feet, in environments that can be noisy and stressful.

Subject Recommendations

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but home economics (food and nutrition) and English to at least NCEA Level 1 are useful.

Related Courses

Waiter/Waitresss can earn around $21-$22 per hour.

Waiters/waitresses usually earn between minimum wage and a little above.

They may also receive tips from customers, but the cafe/restaurant manager decides if the tips are kept by individuals or divided equally among staff.

Source: Restaurant Association of New Zealand, '2018 Remuneration Survey', 2018.

Waiters/waitresses may progress to senior roles, such as cafe/restaurant manager or maitre d'hotel.

Years Of Training

There are no specific requirements for waiters/waitresses as training is done on the job.

Waiters/waitresses can also study towards a New Zealand Certificate in Hospitality (Food and Beverage) (Level 3) while working.

You can also train to be a steward (similar to waiter/waitress) with the Defence Force.