What started out as a simple idea to make a little extra cash selling donuts at the market has turned into a successful foodtruck venture for Kaitaia couple Sarah and Tokoa Aumata.
Sarah began the venture several years ago and while her cooking proved popular, she had a lot to learn about running a food business.
“By the third week, the lady who runs the market, she asked me if I had a certificate, a food licence. And I thought ‘what’s that?’. I was oblivious to it eh,” Sarah says.
“So I had to find out how to get a licence.”
That involved the long process of having her home kitchen certified, and that’s when she came up with the business name, Cook Island Māori.
“When the council came to verify the kitchen, they said I needed a business name and that’s the first thing that popped into my head. Because he’s Cook Island, I’m Māori.”
It’s also when she decided to learn more about running a business and to buy a food caravan, rather than continue selling kai from boxes.
“I didn’t want to be in debt, because I don’t like that. So we talked and decided we’d just take the plunge and go into debt for the caravan and it was worth it.”
She also enrolled in the Certificate in Small Business and Project Management Course at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Kaitaia.
“I thought, maybe that’s what I need, because I wasn’t supposed to be in business, it was just to make extra money. It’s really great when you have a great tutor behind you, like Valerie West. I learned so many things.”
She also completed the Certificate in Money Management programme and says it was “awesome”.
“I’m good at money, but we had forecasting and I’d never done any forecasting, and I didn’t even know about spreadsheets and how much I spend on the donuts, the amount of flour I use, all that kind of thing, I’d never broken it down.”
She says the course also taught her about paperwork and working online.
“Val keeps pressing in to me, do it on the computer. But I don’t like the computer, I’ve got a laptop but I don’t like it but finally I’m actually doing all my forecasting, everything on spreadsheets now, and I love it,” she says.
“And that’s how I ended up being in business. That’s what Te Wānanga o Aotearoa has done for me. It’s an awesome place to study, I love it, we’re like an intimate family.”