The General - Mount Maunganui
Aaron and Malika opened Mount Maunganui’s phenomenally successful café, The General, in 2017. But their connection to the Bay runs deep – right back through Aaron’s childhood. They love living in downtown the Mount and enjoy all it has to offer.
How long have you lived in the Bay and what initially brought you here?
Aaron: 35 years. I was brought up in the Bay, my family moved here when I was 3. During my adult career I spent many years overseas and in other parts of New Zealand. The Bay was always a place I came back to very frequently, and I always knew it would be the place I would come home to and settle eventually.
Having worked for, and alongside, some of the most extremes of wealth and poverty in this world, in such diverse environments, you really realise how lucky we are to come from New Zealand, and especially some wonderful pockets such as The Mount and Tauranga.
Malika: 16 months. The beauty, business opportunities, the people and of course my partner and his friends and family.
Where do you live, and who do you live with?
We live in downtown Mount Maunganui with each other (we’re engaged to be married).
What do you love most about living in this region?
Aaron: All it has to offer. Within a 2km radius of where we live we have the surf, fishing and diving, the Mount itself up/or around, Pilot Bay and the harbour. Sunsets looking out to the Kaimais – a great spot as many know for takeaways or watching the cruise ships depart.
I also love the business precinct and being able to access so much on foot or bicycle.
The ease of accessibility to the industrial areas of the Mount serves as a real benefit for our business and other projects I have going on.
Within an hour you have multiple beautiful lakes to choose from, and within a few hours the mountains and the snow etc. Within 1-2 hours north or south there is the beginnings of the Coromandel and East Cape which have their own wonderful coastal environments.
The Bay has a growing and progressive local economy, and it’s really not hard to see why so many people are drawn to the place and have/ or are moving here: the lifestyle it offers within such short distance, if not right on your doorstep. In the summer, for example, at the very end of a day we can walk to the beach, swim, get home and have the BBQ on all within half an hour.
I have fond memories through my teenage years and early 20s of diving for plenty of scallops in the harbour less than a couple of kms from the Matua peninsula, kayaking to Rabbit Island and free diving for crayfish, and surfing as much as possible at the Mount and Matakana Island. My earlier memories when I was a much younger kid including riding my bike to Salisbury Wharf, or old stone jetty under the Mount to catch fish for the cats !
Malika: The community, the natural beauty, the proximity and ease of having everything that we could ever want within walking or biking distance.
What changes have you seen in our community while living here?
Aaron: Obvious growth and development. Residential and commercial. Roading infrastructure quickly lags behind unfortunately when growth happens. The current traffic congestion is a very strong indicator of such growth. Still, there is other regions in New Zealand where sitting in traffic is a lot worse than here. Perhaps it’s engrained in Kiwis to dislike it, subconsciously knowing what else we can do be doing especially with the lifestyle we’re spoilt with. This is an obvious wider concern for many, though we are very fortunate and drive very little.
Malika: In the one year of having a business here there has been so much growth within our industry which is great. There are all sorts of fabulous things happening, and I imagine this is all to do with growth. I think it is great for the area, it attracts more people and keeps everyone striving to do the best they can.
What do you do for a living?
Aaron: Together we own an eatery in Mount Maunganui called The General. We did a very large makeover and revamp of the premises when we took over in 2017. I did this with help from a few close friends who are to be my Best Man and Groomsmen….or I’m still hoping so after that project!
I did a joinery apprenticeship here in the Mount after leaving school which merged into building houses. I then spent the next 15 years as crew and then Captain of luxury sportfishing yachts in New Zealand, the Pacific, USA, Middle East and Africa.
Day-to-day I manage the behind the scenes operational side of The General, and spend plenty of time in the kitchen helping the chefs when required.
Malika: As co-owner of The General, I work hands on Front of House, and in the kitchen and also handle the general management of everything.
I’m a chef by trade, having done a Science degree majoring in Human Nutrition and Culinary Arts. Prior to moving to the Bay, I had another business which was similar to what we are doing now, and I spent seven years working on luxury yachts and cooking for private families around the world.
What are your main social activities/interests?
Aaron: Enjoying the above on offer when we can.
Malika: Yoga, running, surfing, cookbooks, reading.
Your friends and family know you as a person who…
Aaron: Is always busy, love to get my teeth into projects.
Malika: Loves to stay busy ……and always has “an idea”.
How would you describe our community vibe or Bay locals’ attitude to life?
Aaron: Pretty relaxed, again perhaps engrained with the lifestyle that surrounds them.
Malika: Relaxed and never take the place they are living in for granted.
What do you always recommend family or friends do when they visit?
Aaron: Walk up or around the Mount, visit the beach, walk along Pilot Bay. Take a surfboard if they’re keen and get out there!
Malika: Walk up the Mount to get perspective on how unique and pretty our home town is. Enjoy our beautiful beach.
Who comes to stay with you most often?
Family and close friends.
Describe your perfect day
- Walk around our block which is the beach, around the Mount and along Pilot Bay.
- Have a coffee and breakfast out.
- Surf or paddleboard if the weather allows.
- An afternoon or evening yoga class.
- Catch up with friends or family.
- Look through the beautiful boutique shops in the Mount Main Street
- Hang out at the Main Beach, either in the water or on the sand.
- Sunset at Pilot Bay
What are your favourite places to eat out in the Bay?
We have to, of course, say our place The General. But there are so many places we love to eat out depending on our mood or if we have visitors. We have our favorite places for all different reasons. Again we feel so lucky to live in walking distance of so many places. We are spoilt for choice.
What’s the Bay’s best kept secret?
Not really a secret I guess, but all of the above which surrounds and offers that lifestyle within the small radius downtown the Mount.
What do you think the Bay could be world famous for?
All within that 2km radius as mentioned above, and all that the cruise ship passengers see when they sail in and out of Mount Maunganui.
What would you say to convince people to holiday here?
This place has it all! For those who love the outdoors, the indoors or anything in between there is something for everyone at any age group. You can never ever get bored!!