Our Wellington

News | 20 November 2020

Why we love the Harbourside Market

Every Sunday morning before the birds wake up and the sun rises, a community of food producers are already in full swing on Wellington’s waterfront.

Image of bright fresh fruit and vegetables at the Harbourside Market on Wellington waterfront, with Te Papa in the background.

Tommy Young and Tony Jung busy themselves unpacking box after box of fruit and vegetables harvested the day before, and Lei Hayes carefully empties her van of freshly cut flowers, arranging them in buckets.

Sebastian Nebel and Lena Donandt raise their marquee and display their handmade German-style sausages in a cabinet, while Anna weighs down her caravan with sandbags to save it from Wellington’s famous wind before putting oats on the stove and slicing up fresh toppings for her porridge bowls.

These are just a few of the friendly faces that make up the iconic Harbourside Market – a place where every Sunday, up to 25,000 Wellingtonians and visitors alike can experience tastes from all corners of the globe.

From 7.30am, with reusable shopping bags in tow, early birds keen to beat the crowds will trickle into the Harbourside Market to pick up their fresh veggies for the week.

As the city comes to life, the market becomes a bustling centre point with families, friends, and dog walkers holding hot coffee, laughing, sharing paper plates of flavoursome food, and speaking in all languages.

Image of Tony, a produce grower in Levin, with Harbourside Market manager Fraser, standing in a field next to a tractor.

Levin-based grower Tony Jung (left) and Harbourside Market Manager Fraser Ebbett.

Fraser Ebbett has been managing the Harbourside Market for the past decade. He says it’s become an important part of Wellington’s fabric, celebrating a melting pot of flavours, cultures, and personalities.

The longest-running market in Wellington, it began in 2002 as Chaffers Market and was situated on what is now Waitangi Park. It was rebranded as Harbourside Market in 2009 and relocated to its current spot between Te Papa and Waitangi Park in 2010.

Fraser says the market has grown significantly over the years, from a few fresh produce stalls to between 50-60 permanent vendors plus seasonal tenants.

“Some of the vendors have been attending the markets for almost 20 years, and it’s evolved into a pretty tight-knit community.”

He says the Harbourside Market is about supporting local and celebrating the diversity of our city.

During his time managing the market, Fraser has helped kickstart initiatives that give back to the community.

These include the Community Car Park Fundraiser, which generates about $20,000 each year. The programme sees the market car park managed by community groups, with takings going towards their fundraising projects.

Then there’s the Harbourside Market Food Partnership Programme, which works with Kaibosh Food Rescue.

“Stallholders donate unsold, fresh produce from the market on a weekly basis to be sorted and distributed to charities for collection. Each weekend stallholders donate up to 1000kg of food to Kaibosh – more than 45 tonnes per year.”

Fraser says over the years the market has also offered opportunities to hundreds of performers, community groups, surveys, and young enterprise groups.

Behind the Stalls - showcasing the stallholders

Wellington City Council is launching Behind the Stalls, a campaign highlighting some of the colourful characters who help make the markets a unique place.

“After a challenging year, I thought it would be a good time to give you some back-stories of some of the interesting folk that we have here – some who have been here much longer than I, and some who haven’t,” Fraser says.

He says keep an eye out for the Behind the Stalls series, on Our Wellington online and social media channels.