The Little Big Markets

TLBM is a thriving community hub on a Saturday. This issue we meet a range of local stallholders who make fragrant bath bombs, deliciously authentic chorizo, fruity ice cream and sustainably made clothing.

TLBM is a thriving community hub on a Saturday. This issue we meet a range of local stallholders
who make fragrant bath bombs, authentic chorizo, fruity ice cream and sustainably made clothing.

Pipis Ice Cream

With small-batch ice cream and smoothies hand-made on-the-spot from frozen fruit, Pipis’ formula
is as simple as it gets. So when Chrystal Pokaia was looking to simplify her life from a 9–5, the answer came in the form of Pipis mobile ice cream trailer. “I’d worked in corporate since I was 16,” she says.
“I thought, I don’t want that lifestyle anymore — then Pipis popped up.”

Though Chrystal and her partner, Tu Tiananga (pictured above), only took over Pipis in February, it has been a Mount staple for three years. They’ve kept favourites like mixed berry and banana, while trialling seasonal flavours like feijoa, with more fun to come. “I’ve given Pipis a paint job and a freshen up for this summer.”

Chrystal’s foray into entrepreneurship is a lifetime in the making. “I was learning about business
when I was ten years old from my dad. He always worked hard and he instilled that in us too. But
then the flip side of that is always to help others and give back, as well,” she adds.

“I’m really big on trying to support local and small businesses,” she says. “If I need to buy something, I’ll always have a scan around the market.”


Nicolas with a selection of his authentic El Jefe smallgoods.

El Jefe

The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree with El Jefe smallgoods maker Nicolas Pagani. Hailing
from Uruguay, he had a butcher grandad, restaurateur father and pastry chef mother, so it’s no surprise that he studied hospitality and went on to become a chef.

As a chef, Nicolas travelled widely to work during busy seasons, which is how he ended up in Aotearoa with his wife, Betania. “We were coming for six months, but we found life here a lot more relaxed,” he says. “A chef’s life is harder in South America as they are still serving people at 12 at
night. So for me, when everything was closing at 9pm here, I thought, this is cool, I could almost
have a normal life!”

He was cheffing in Wellington, and making sausages and salami at home as a hobby, when a
chef friend asked him to make Argentinian chorizo for his restaurant, as he was unable to find
what he wanted. “I wasn’t sure if I had time, but thought I would give it a go,” says Nicolas.
“Then others heard about it, people were making requests, asking about new recipes…”

Nicolas looked to his homeland for help with his repertoire. “I was talking to my dad, saying, ‘can
you give me some recipes from your old man?’ My dad’s like a bohemian, he lives off nothing, he bikes all around — and it became his goal. He biked to butchers that have been there for 40 or 50 years, asking for recipes. He was sending me pictures of really old recipes, I couldn’t even understand the writing!” laughs Nicolas. “I took some basics from that and started writing my own.”

Nicolas is now a Tauranga local and TLBM regular, with El Jefe’s stall offering smallgoods, such
as Uruguayan salami, smoked meatballs, burgers and other meat cuts, and serving up bacon sammies and hotdogs (made from scratch, of course). He’s also just opened a shop front at his Mount premises. “It’s good to have direct sales, rather than just wholesale. That’s really valuable, as we can talk to the customer about the product much more,” he says. “Our whole concept is to keep it natural — that’s why we don’t use nitrates or preservatives or fillers in our sausages and meats.”

Saturdays are busy at the shop, and you’re more likely to hear Spanish rather than English being spoken. “We have a big South American customer base, and in the weekend we sell a lot of cuts
for big asado-style barbecues.” Popular choices are the Argentinian chorizo and morcilla (black pudding), and big slabs of wagyu brisket. “It’s not your usual scotch fillet or ribeye, it’s about slow-cooking over the fire for seven hours, it’s about people around the fire, chatting, having nibbles...
It’s more a ritual than cooking.”


Bathbomb NZ

Kerry and Maurice Meyers (pictured above) may or may not have a unicorn in their backyard.
At least that’s what they tell the kids buying Unicorn Poo at TLBM. Their company Bath Bomb NZ
is known for handmade bath bombs and cleansing products, and kids aren’t the only fans.

The grown-up selection runs from bath and shower bombs to bath salts and bubble bath with essential oils like lemongrass and lavender. Kid-friendly scents include Bubble Gum, Candy Floss
and Monkey Fart (banana), and playful products like Dino Eggs bath bombs. The aforementioned Unicorn Poo is made from broken bath bombs. “If a bath bomb breaks, we have very little waste,” Maurice says.

“I think what makes us unique is the products are made locally and we know what our
ingredients are. It’s a very simple recipe,” Kerry says. “Most of the ingredients are ones you
would find in your pantry.”

The duo have been hand-crafting products for 10 years and TLBM has been key for them.
“We’ve known some of the stallholders here for years. It’s like a family,” Maurice says. “Our stand
is a pick-and-mix, like a lolly stand,” Kerry says of their vibrant setup. Kids can choose DIY bottled
rainbow salts, while adults can pick up felted (wool-wrapped) soaps — fun for all ages.


Ash Morgan (left) and Dave Allum, founders of Ocean Cycle clothing and Outflow charity.

Ocean Cycle

Caring for the ocean is a cause that most Bay of Plenty residents can get behind. It’s also what brought together London-born Ash Morgan and Tauranga local Dave Allum, founders of Ocean
Cycle ocean-friendly clothing.

“The idea of Ocean Cycle is to supply sustainable products, with part of the profit going into our ocean-related charity, Outflow,” Ash says. “We figured, instead of paying into lots of other charities,
it would be more beneficial for us to do the work ourselves.” The pair is hands on with their charity
— carrying out beach cleanups and surveys, and undertaking research projects.

Ocean Cycle offers long-lasting jumpers and t-shirts made from 100% certified organic cotton.
“The clothes are part of Fair Wear and they’re made from solely green energy, from solar panels
and wind farms,” Ash explains. “We also have shorts that are made from recycled ocean waste plastic and ponchos and beach towels made out of single-use plastic.”

New to TLBM since earlier this year, the concept has taken off with market goers. “We’re successful when we can talk to people at the markets and it’s just great seeing their faces light up,” Dave says. “That means the utmost to us because we are passionate about the environment,” Ash adds.

Over summer, they’ll be hosting beach cleanups. “We’ll also be surveying for the quality of the ecosystem around the Bay and how we can help improve it. I think that’s where Dave’s [marine biology] degree comes in handy,” Ash says. “We’re in the process of trying to get boats and
some dive gear, and we’ll be out there picking up old fishing lines and any rubbish we come
across,” says Dave.

“Eventually, we also want to start getting into schools and doing talks and presentations for
students,” Dave says. “We need to educate people from a young age to always naturally care
for the environment, so they’ll grow up and they’ll pass it onto their children,” Ash says.

Ultimately, the goal is to allow people to make a difference through their consumer choices. “Some people can’t afford the time to do conservation work, but if they can put a t-shirt on or a jumper or
a poncho, that’s their way of donating to the charity,” Ash says. “It doesn’t have to be big, it’s the small things that add up.”


Words by Carla Bragagnini & Sarah Nicholson (El Jefe)
Photography by ilk
Art direction by Millie Guest