Raniera Rewiri (Te Whakatohea, Tuhoe) - also known as the Plant-Based Maori - is the founder of Tupuanuku, a vegan market stall and catering company based in Whakatane.
‘The only reason it was Plant-Based Maori is because the Maori Vegan was taken up!’ Raniera Rewiri, who calls himself the Plant-Based Maori, certainly isn’t the only Maori vegan out there. Raniera went vegan on 1 May, 2017 - but it was only supposed to be for a month. His curiosity was sparked by his best mate, Te Haunui Tuna, who was vegan for the animals. It was his integrity that won Raniera over: ‘He never forced anything on me, let alone anybody.’
So in November 2016, he decided to transition to veganism. He started doing his research - and that was when he began to uncover the truth. ‘It was pretty overwhelming!’ What really convinced him, though, was the environment - and this was something he was able to connect to his world as a Maori. ‘The strongest connection I could find was the negative impacts it’s having on the environment,’ he says. ‘As Maori, we really depend on our environment. If you were to ask anyone who is Maori where we’re from, we all know where we’re from, we all know our mountains, our maunga, we all know our rivers, our awa, our marae where we come from - but one thing we’re not understanding is our riverways are extremely sick.’ His own awa, Waiotahe, is polluted. It is from that river that his ancestors ate. ‘It’s contaminated. Once, we called that the pataka kai, which is our food basket.’