Sea’s Up: Kaimoana Food Cart Makes Waves in Hawke’s Bay

Tatiana Baker and Nikaya Pomfret during a busy day serving fresh kia moana to the people of Hawke’s Bay at a marine parade. Photo / Provided

A new seafood cart is making waves in Hawke’s Bay, with visitors from as far away as Gisborne and Pōrangahau stopping in for a bite to eat.

The small family business, based on all things seafood, opened its doors to the public on January 15 and has been out every weekend since.

Sea’s Up gets fresh seafood from Saltwater Seafoods and SUNZ, as well as orders from southern kaimoana, because it really depends on what’s in stock at Hawke’s Bay.

Tatiana Baker, the driver behind the kaimoana cart, said she had a passion for cooking seafood and had been thinking about the adventure for some time.

“I saw the potential and who doesn’t love seafood?” said Baker.

“I also wanted to bring fresh, affordable seafood to the people of Hawke’s Bay.”

Like most people, the Covid 2020 lockdown left Baker plenty of free time, so she signed up for EIT to take an online small business course.

“The course helped me plan my business, my marketing and also gave me insight into what to expect if things went wrong,” Baker said.

“I specifically wanted to work with seafood, so I based my whole business plan around the sea.”

After buying his cart about a year ago, it took him a while to finally work up the courage to open up to the public.

“I always found excuses not to take it out, I think I was just scared because I had never cooked for the public before and was too worried about what other people would say about my food. .”

Once outside, she found the response from Hawke’s Bay residents “incredible” and she loves the happy smiles on customers’ faces.

Sea's Up has had busy queues since it opened, and they keep getting bigger every weekend, with locals and visitors alike happy to line up to sample the fresh seafood dishes.  Photo / Provided
Sea’s Up has had busy queues since it opened, and they keep getting bigger every weekend, with locals and visitors alike happy to line up to sample the fresh seafood dishes. Photo / Provided

Baker and her co-worker, Nikaya Pomfret, were stunned by the support, with customers coming from as far away as Pōrangahau and Gisborne.

“We definitely thank all of our customers for being patient and waiting in those long lines in the hot weather.”

The most popular thing on the Sea’s Up menu right now seems to be anything pāua.

The team begins testing different things like seafood boils, which Baker says are “going really well.”

“We also have an already developed winter menu and can’t wait to start advertising it.”

The mobile food cart can theoretically go anywhere, but the Sea’s Up crew hangs around Napier because it’s closer to home.

After being operational for nearly two months, the kaimoana food cart is seeking consent to travel to Flaxmere, so they can trade there once a week.

“The people of Flaxmere have asked us a lot to lead us, we can’t let our customers down,” Baker said.

In the future, Baker and her husband plan to get a larger cart and additional staff.