The popular Big Wave Café cart is missing from the mobile traders' line-up at the main beach this year and customers are getting wild about it.
The Big Wave Café has been part of the Christmas/New Year beach scenery for the last five years, successfully acquiring a trading licence from the Tauranga City Council tendering process for each of those years.
But their tender was rejected this summer because the business didn't satisfy the city council bureaucrats about its sustainability.
This is a business that had an environmental scientist on staff at the time their application was made, and has had a strict recycling policy for the four years before the city council added sustainability to its criteria for this summer's tender acceptance process.
Big Wave is organic, fair trade, and organised its own re-cycling and waste streams and their disposal for years before it was a council requirement.
“We did it ourselves because TCC didn't do it for us,” says a spokesperson.
They had a water filtering system and recycling as well, but apparently it wasn't enough.
The row of vacant mobile trader parks today.
In reply to questions Tauranga City Council staff say only that Big Wave wasn't successful in the tender process this year. And they sent a copy of the mobile shops evaluation criteria.
Under ‘Sustainability' it states Council staff will consider the proposed actions the applicant will take to minimise environmental impacts, including but not limited to:
Reducing waste, Using packaging materials that can be recycled or composted, Providing opportunities for the public to divert recyclables and compostable material from the rubbish, Food waste reduction, Reducing water consumption, Reducing energy consumption, and Fairtrade/Rainforest Alliance certification.
The sustainability issue is given a weighting of 30 per cent. Meaning it's about a third of the evaluation points towards a successful tender.
A panel of three from the council's Parks and Recreation and Transportation teams evaluated the tenders, says acting manager parks and recreation, Josh Trafford.
“The evaluation of the tenders is based on the quality of the information provided in the written applications, along with any complaints received and the applicants' history of compliance across the city,” says Josh.
The council decision forces Big Wave off Marine Parade until after Waitangi, when the peak season licences expire.
Meanwhile Mount Maunganui locals point to the row of empty mobile trader car parks today to underline their point that the council process is flawed and doesn't account for the community's wishes.
The Big Wave Café operators are also a community hub. They organise beach clean ups they host a local notice board and local suppliers no longer have the Big Wave Café buying off them, and there are the job losses, the uni students who work over the summer.
“They're like the main ‘info centre' opposite Mount Drury and Moturiki Island, keep an eye on young ‘uns, lost property, sleeping seal pups and keeping the area clean,” says one Facebook post.
Big Wave will be able to operate at Mount Drury again from Wednesday 7 February, if they have a current food registration and if they wish to.