Healthy whānau kai, an award-winning recipe for a Maori businesswoman
Kiwi Kai Nelson makes food with recipes inspired by the taste of her childhood. Photo / Supplied
By James Perry of Maori Television
A vision to offer quality food using whānau recipes has seen Reni Wereta-Gargiulo recognized in the Māori Businesswoman Awards.
Wereta-Gargiulo (Ngāti Ruanui, Ngā Rauru Kītahi, Te Ātiawa) is the owner of Nelson-based Kiwi Kai Nelson, which produces “nutritious and finely balanced” kai with a strong emphasis on indigenous fusion and seafood. She was crowned Supreme Award winner and Business Collaboration Award winner at the annual Maori Women’s Development Incorporation event in Auckland over the weekend.
“I was literally over the moon, quite impressed. The caliber of the women at the awards was huge, so I was and still am excited,” she told teaomaori.news
Kiwi Kai Nelson makes kai using recipes inspired by the flavor of his childhood, and Wereta-Gargiulo founded the company as a means of striking out on his own.
“I was in a position where I wanted to work for myself, and I decided, ‘yeah, let’s start making raw fish, kids,’ and they thought I was crazy, but it came true.”
She says that Maori women are becoming a bigger and stronger presence in the business landscape, here and around the world.
Many more wonderful wāhine
“The growth of Maori women in business is huge. It was more than evident in these awards. The caliber of women in business for Maori was very, very high. Apparently there were 300 applications for these awards, which shows that that it’s just the tip of the iceberg, there are so many more wonderful, intelligent, educated and inspiring wāhine out there.
“It was a really proud moment to be a part of, but also knowing that there are so many more of us in the same position.”
The company has a vision to create kai that avoids a negative impact on the environment, using locally sourced ingredients and a premise of four ingredients or less per dish.
“Our team is encouraged to be part of a successive launch strategy to create an ecosystem of innovative products, which we are doing.”
indigenous drink label
Kiwi Kai Nelson has a store in downtown Nelson, an online store, and also regularly attends local markets.
It also has a drink label, Atutahi, which fuses indigenous plant species such as kawakawa, horopito and kūmarahou with fruity flavors with distribution as far as Australia. Wereta-Gargiulo says that while he would love to have his products on the global market, he is in no rush to expand.
“I’m sure of this [award] we’ll get there, that’s just when.”