Martin Hansen started the Eastbourne market on the edge of Wellington Harbour, catching and selling fish off his boat Conquest.
He runs it from 8.30 am to 2pm every Sunday, and said it was good to see people being motivated by what was freshly caught.
“Over the years, people have come back from trying to pre-order what they want to coming down on the day and seeing what we’ve got,” Hansen said.
“We’re trying to bring the whole thing back to eating seasonally … and eating what’s fresh on the day.
“Which is what it is all about, because otherwise you have a case of the tail wagging the dog, so we are trying to get the dog to wag the tail again.”
Hansen set nets three to four times a week in Cook Strait catching a number of different species, but focussing on butterfish, blue moki and warehou.
Also a part-time painter, he said it was the tough wholesale market that drove him to move to a more boutique style of operating.
“It’s very tough with the likes of the big South Island companies loading into Wellington in bulk … so that has kind of cancelled out our wholesale market.
“We’re really fishing predominantly for our little weekend market.”
Having to juggle both jobs was difficult and meant constantly planning and re-planning, he said. But it also meant getting to know the locals, including some who have been coming to the market since the start.
“We have got to know a lot of people really well. Some of the originals customers have moved on, some have passed away, and some of them are still there.
“They’re the backbone of the whole business, they will turn up in a 35 knot southerly and rain … and still buy their fish.”
Everything is slurried, tucked away under deck, and pulled out on the day, meaning people get to see what each of the species “look like in their clothes”, Hansen said. This saw more customers buying whole fish rather than fillets.
“That’s what I like to see, people using the heads and the frames - even if they’re making fertiliser out of it for their gardens or soup for that matter.
“It is just nice to see the whole thing being used and not thrown away.”