Homegrown East Coast business idea gets support

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Jessie Thatcher from Uawa - Tolaga Bay has been awarded a cash prize of $10,000 at the 2019 NZ Māori tourism Dragons' Den for her business idea, 'Jeseas Charters', taking visitors on a catch-your-own crayfish, fishing and cuisine experience incorporating local history and tikanga.

The Ngāti Porou descendant is making the most of her natural environment to provide for her family.

“Jeseas Charters is a Māori tikanga-based business that teaches people our local knowledge, our aroha for Tangaroa, the history of Tolaga Bay and how to gather and cook kaimoana,” she says.

Working with the Tolaga Bay Innovation Hub, Thatcher developed the idea for her ocean-based venture.

“Setting crayfish pots, fishing, setting nets, snorkel diving for kina, pāua, getting mussels off the wharf, getting oysters down the river ... going for a look around in Cook's Cove, that's going to be a big thing this year.”

The only East Coast entrant to be selected from over 170 submissions, Jeseas Charters is the winner of the Bring Your Idea To Life award at the NZ Māori Tourism Dragons' Den.

“[We are] wanting to show people our tikanga pertaining to the water, pertaining to kaimoana ... we can take them out and teach them the sustainability as well, so we're only allowed to take what one person is allowed to take from the sea.  Not saying that we're going to take that quota every time we take someone out, just enough for a kai."

The mother of five says her children are her greatest motivation.

“They're going to be coming down or they're going to be out on the boat too with us sometimes.  Well, I'm hoping to take them out and get them more involved because they love doing it as well.”

Thatcher is aiming to have the new venture up and running in the next few weeks.