See the world through WISE

By: Anna King Shahab

Wesley Community Markets was recently treated to healthy cooking demonstrations from two members of the WISE Collective, which works to help former refugee women settle and find work here in New Zealand.

Ling Tihi and Hasina Dilawari hail from two different parts of the globe, but both have made New Zealand home and both are keeping their culture alive, and their families healthy, by cooking nutritious traditional dishes, a task that is made easier with the affordable fresh produce on offer a Wesley Market. Anna King Shahab spoke to Ling and Hasina about their life, cooking and shopping at the markets.


Ling arrived in New Zealand 11 years ago from Chin State in Myanmar. “It’s all mountains - like New Zealand”, she laughs. Although Ling doesn’t live so close to Wesley Markets these days, she still loves to shop here, and has been coming for three years. “Some of the vegetables from my home country are hard to find in other places, but I can get there here”, she says.

Ling’s two daughters grew up in New Zealand, but Ling is making sure they learn how to cook Burmese food, starting with classic dishes like lamb or chicken curries and fried noodles - which is the dish Ling demonstrated for Healthy Community Kai at the markets.

Click here for Ling’s Burmese chicken noodles recipe.


Hasina came to New Zealand only two years ago from Afghanistan, with her husband and five children. Of Tajik and Pashtun ethnicity, Hasina (who speaks seven languages) had been a surgeon for 20 years in her home country, a stressful job necessitating long hours, particularly so in an era of conflict.

“In Afghanistan I didn’t have time to enjoy cooking”, says Hasina. But, unable to work in her profession here in New Zealand and suffering depression as a result of the upheaval, Hasina has found a haven in cooking, which has become a hobby for her. “Eating out is too expensive”, she explains, “But shopping at the markets means I can make fresh, food affordably. I buy lots of spinach, potatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, coriander, celery - I love it all. Homemade food is the best!”

Hasina shares her recipe for bulani with coriander chutney here.