Rachael | Tokomaru Bay, Gisborne

“I grew up in Maraenui in Hawke’s Bay. My mother had seven children, and we were all without a father. So, we didn’t have anybody that showed us work. As a result of that, I ended up having quite a few children, six to be exact, and it wasn’t till I sort of got through my third child, that I started realising, heck you kind of need to work in life.

So, I ended up buying a house in Gisborne, sold my house there, and brought the shop up in Te Puia, and it started evolving from there, to realise it’s all about trying to work for the future, for your children. Also being able to provide work and employment for locals around here, that’s been really important for me. Then we sold the shop in Te Puia, and came down to Tokomaru Bay, and built café 35. I believed I needed a café, and it’s been quite a success as a result of that, I now employ two people, two locals, and I’ve really enjoyed the experience.

We grew up in quite a lot of poverty, and it wasn’t until I got a little bit older, probably 25, I started thinking, heck. I didn’t have money to go to the doctors. I didn’t have money for my children to do extra activities after school, and I started feeling that I was a bit of a failure. So for me the drive was, I don’t want to be rich, it’s not about being rich, but it’s about being able to afford things when you need them. If your car breaks down, you can put it into the garage. If your children are in a bit of a pickle, they can ring Mum and ask for $100. So, that’s what’s driven me. I’m driven for the fact that I just wanted to really break the cycle of how I grew up. 

I think it’s important to have positive people in your life. I look at my older children, the two older ones especially, that saw me as a mother, back then, not working, and I see the difference in my younger children now. They go out. They’ve got jobs. They look up to myself, I believe, and basically monkey see, monkey do. My two older children have been through a lot. So, I do look back and feel like I’ve failed them, because they didn’t have that start that my younger children did. But in saying that they are good children, they do try, but in saying that, the younger ones have it a little bit easier.

So, we bought the lease of the building for Cafe 35, and spent about a year and a half doing it all up. I really wanted to create something on the coast that would suit, and I believed a rustic building and rustic-themed café would do it, and that’s why we’ve done it up like this. It was a no-brainer to make something rustic. People come in and they quite enjoy it. They come in and they’re like, wow you wouldn’t expect this. 

We wanted to have a little bit of a point of difference. So my husband actually created a pāua pie, which I didn’t believe would go very well, because I didn’t think you could put pāua in a pie, and as a result of that, we’ve become quite well-known. A lot of people come here because of the pies, and it’s actually quite neat. A lot of people have rung up and asked, could we sell our pies in other places in Gisborne, and I said no because I felt like it’s only an hour drive. It’s quite nice for people to come up the coast. They might stop and get a pie here. They might get an ice-cream next door. They also might get petrol at our local Four Square. Everybody benefits from things like that. I feel it’s important that people come in here and enjoy their experience, which has been lovely hearing all the comments back. You feel quite rewarded.”

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