Meet the team - Ngareta Mason

Ngareta is the new Altar Bread Manufacturing Supervisor at Saint Vincent De Paul in Newtown Wellington. She has been in this role for the past four months and has really loved the challenge of her new job so far. 

Ngareta, who has a background in Food Science, moved to Wellington in January to shift gear into a job that both used her skills and education as well as aligned with her personal ethos. She said one of the best things about her job is that it is not about profit, it is about people. Ngareta felt this job would be a great fit with her as she has been connected with the organisation in the past as a Young Vinnie during her education at a Catholic high school in Auckland. 

Altar bread, or communion wafers, are one of the two most essential components used in the Christian ritual of the Eucharist. As such, the Altar Breads Operation in Newtown supplies approximately 80% of the New Zealand altar bread market. In order to fill this demand, Ngareta arrives at work by 7am so she can prepare the machines before the rest of the team arrive to assist her at around 9am.

The manufacturing process of Altar Breads is quite technical, even though flour and water are only the two ingredients involved. The most crucial step in this process is the preparation of the wet mixture itself at the very start. This flour-water mix needs to be prepared to just the right consistency in order to ensure that the final product will be a lovely white bread with a glossy sheen, that is thick enough to withstand the journey from the factory to the church. 

One of the best things about Saint Vincent De Paul Altar breads is that they employ people with intellectual disabilities to assist in the manufacturing process. There are six other team members who help Ngareta at various stages of the altar bread manufacturing process, many of whom have been there for more than twenty years and are very experienced at what they do. Ngareta said that her workmates are the thing she most enjoys about her job and that the team create such a positive vibe in the Newton office that it is an absolute pleasure to come to work. According to her, her altar bread team mates are exceptionally hard working and have some of the best and most positive work ethics she has ever seen. 

By Bridget Burt | Volunteer writer