You are currently viewing Winning by quality, not sympathy: The Cookie Project celebrates milestone for Kiwis with disabilities

The Auckland-based bakery was founded in 2018 with the purpose to help Kiwis with disabilities understand their own value to themselves and to society by paying them at least the minimum wage to bake its award-winning cookies.

Co-founder Graeme Haddon said achieving this 3,000 hour milestone is encouraging for those like his adopted daughter, Ngā Hou, who has six different diagnosed disabilities, including foetal alcohol syndrome and autism.

“While there is a minimum wage exemption policy in Aotearoa, we personally don’t believe it’s fair to pay someone less just because they have a disability,”​ said Haddon.

“Ngā Hou and the rest of our bakers have shown remarkable work ethic, and their skill development over the time spent with us is testament to the fact that people with disabilities just need a foot in the door to demonstrate their capabilities.”

Scaling up

The bakery has recently signed a commercial partnership with New Zealand’s national stadium Eden Park, which will provide more employment opportunities. It is also launching a host of novel baking experiences in its kitchen for bakers with disabilities, such as ‘Free Cookie Saturdays’, ‘Bake Your Own Cookies’, ‘Win My Cookie Challenge’ and ‘Baking in the Dark’.

A nationwide ‘Local Cookie Rep’ pilot programme is also being explored for those who live outside of Auckland looking for employment.

Co-founder Eric Chuah attributes the milestone achievement to the social enterprise’s motto of ‘winning by quality, not sympathy’, most recently seen through the response to its limited edition cookies developed for Pride Month and Lunar New Year.