The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Behind the scenes of the Pullman Auckland Airport hotel

Behind the scenes of the Pullman Auckland Airport hotel

Five star Te Arikinui Pullman Auckland Airport Hotel has opened with just a 100 metre walk to the Auckland International Airport terminal, and brings a wealth of New Zealand culture within, through both its design and cuisine.

Architecturally designed by Warren and Mahoney, the hotel is shaped by the design concept ‘Sea to Sky’ and inspired by the journey of adventure and discovery of the people of Tainui waka, following their arrival at Manukau Harbour, believed to be around 1350.

Leading specialist commercial kitchen provider Wildfire’s involvement started with the preliminary design phases back in 2017 for the hotel’s top floor restaurant and bar, overlooking the main runway of the international airport.

Working closely with the architectural and interiors teams to create an outstanding offering for the operators, fitout was affected by the shut down of construction due to Covid19 but soon came back on-line mid 2020.

”The equipment installed includes trusted brands, such as Waldorf cooking, Cyberchill refrigeration, Halton Hoods and includes a Zesti wood fired grill feature. Pete Yeo did an outstanding job Project Managing this property over many years of stops and starts,” says Wildfire Managing Director Craig Cunningham.

”Wildfire Commercial Kitchens & Bars are extremely proud of the completed product and wish the team at Pullman Auckland Airport every success. This property is in prime position for plane watchers and enthusiasts alike as it has a 360deg view over the airfield and surrounding developments.

”Wildfire has successfully consulted, designed, supplied, project managed and commissioned many of New Zealand’s largest and most prominent commercial food service projects. Our clients range from restaurants, cafes and bars, through to production kitchens, aged care and educational facilities, multi story hotels and resorts, correction facilities, hospitals and stadiums.”

Kitchen equipment installed includes trusted brands, such as Waldorf cooking, Cyberchill refrigeration, Halton Hoods and a Zesti wood fired grill feature.

The interiors of the 311 guestrooms and Te Kaahu restaurant are designed by the Space Studio team to embrace understated luxury within a space that heroes simplicity, comfort, and light. Décor is refined and stylish, and features a custom designed carpet referencing the wash of the ocean as it reaches the shores of the Manukau Harbour.

The inclusion of cultural design elements carved into the stone and timber panelling, and applied to fabric wall coverings, and locally made iwi-designed bed throws, provide an interior that is uniquely Aotearoa and seen in no other hotel in the world.

Helmed by esteemed chef, Nancye Pirini (Te Whanau aa Apanui, Te Rarawa) (Bio see below) who’s carefully curated menu offers a selection of Aotearoa’s finest cuisine, Te Kaahu offers relaxed fine dining with a sense of understated luxury, with views over the runway and Manukau harbour. The menu is a modern take on traditional New Zealand cuisine, elevating and celebrating the best of Aotearoa and heroes locally sourced ingredients of the highest quality and freshness. Beyond the restaurant sits the Te Kaahu lounge, an exclusive haven for meetings, relaxation, and dining.

Highly regarded New Zealand fashion designer, Kiri Nathan, of, Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Paoa, Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Hine iwi, designed signature pieces for the women’s front office uniform such as capes, jackets, and blouses inspired by the hotel.

Other features of the hotel include a gymnasium, the Toorea and Kootare meeting rooms also located on the 9th floor, and the Kuriri Café and Eatery – a grab ‘n’ go artisan food and coffee option located in the lobby. Te Arikinui Pullman Auckland Airport Hotel provides absolute convenience for those who live far from the Auckland International Airport and want to be close for that early morning departure or late return.

Accor Pacific Chief Operating Officer PME, Adrian Williams, said the opening of the hotel was well-timed, with global travel making a strong comeback after the last three years.

“It is incredibly exciting to welcome this architectural landmark to our hotel portfolio. This hotel is a first in its class example of indigenous cultural design.

“We are already seeing strong interest and demand for Te Arikinui Pullman Auckland Airport Hotel, offering guests exceptional premium hospitality experiences alongside a stunning fusion of cultural and superior design.”

Te Arikinui is the third Pullman hotel to open in Aotearoa, New Zealand and is joining another eighteen Pullman hotels across Australia and the Pacific. It is jointly owned by Auckland Airport and Tainui Group Holdings.


Head Chef Nancye Pirini, of Te whanau A Apanui descent, grew up in Otara, South Auckland, developing her passion for cooking with her mother, a resourceful home cook who prepared beautiful dishes to serve her family on a strict budget.

Te Arikinui Pullman Auckland Airport Hotel Head Chef Nancye Pirini.

After completing high school, Nancye pursued a Hospitality introductory course. Just as her dream of becoming a professional Chef started to take shape, Nancye had to put her studies and career on hold when she became pregnant with her first child.

Following her third child, Nancye decided to resume her culinary journey, starting a transition course at Te Puea Marae then completing her studies at Auckland Hotel & Chefs Training School and Manukau Institute of technology whilst studying she joined the Manurewa Returned Services’ Association as a line Chef.

Nancye became a full-time student while working part time where she gained enough experience to take on a new challenge and started at Centra Auckland Airport (now Holiday Inn Airport) as commis Chef and assistant pastry chef.

While growing her family, becoming a mother-of-five, Nancye continued to pursue her career dream. She demonstrated resilience and passion for the industry, often having to do early and graveyard shifts to accommodate her family.

Nancye participated in culinary competitions and excelled at patisserie, hot grill and other front-line sections and her talent was soon recognised by one of the country’s top Chefs. In 2005, Nancye joined the team at Dine, Sky City, working under world-renowned Chef, Peter Gordon. In two years, she became his Executive Sous Chef and took this opportunity seriously, often taking on extra projects – particularly Peter Gordon’s charity events, which she continues to be involved with.  

In 2010, Nancye fulfilled her goal of running her own kitchen, joining the Jet Park Hotel as their Executive Chef. Nancye helped the team to win the coveted title of “Restaurant of the Year” with the Restaurant Association of New Zealand in association with Hospitality Standards Institute.

In 2014, Nancye embarked on a key role with Accor Hotels, becoming the Executive Chef in the Novotel Auckland Airport’s signature restaurant, The Square now Thirteen50 Bar & bistro.

Today Nancye is the esteemed executive chef at Te Kaahu, Te Arkinui Pullman Auckland Airport Hotel where she proudly curates a menu of Aotearoa’s finest cuisine inspired by the best of New Zealand’s ingredients and produce.

It’s indigenous cultural design has been welcomed by Accor Pacific Chief Operating Office PME, Adrian Williams. “It is incredibly exciting to welcome this architectural landmark to our hotel portfolio and it is first in it’s class example of indigenous cultural design.”

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