Our New Zealand Center
Shangri-La is Gentle World’s vegan education center located in the beautiful countryside of the Far North of New Zealand. We assumed stewardship of the land in the year 2000, and have welcomed countless volunteers since then to live, learn and practice the vegan ethic.
Our team of volunteers facilitates a range of educational experiences, including veganic gardening classes, vegan cooking demonstrations and hands-on lessons in practical ecology and sustainability. Gentle World is proud to be among the first in NZ to innovate in the field of veganic agriculture, including developing a humane method of orchard possum-proofing.
Please note that our NZ center is open only during the summer months, and is closed to visitors from the end of March until the beginning of December. We are currently closed for an indeterminate period due to COVID travel restrictions.
Restoring the Land
Shangri-La: A model of cooperative vegan living & agriculture
Gentle World’s New Zealand educational center is located in the Far North of the North Island, just south of the town of Kaitaia.
Shangri-La is a vegan sanctuary created on land that was once used for animal farming. Within the first year, our volunteers restored the derelict old farm house to be used as facilities for our visitor center, as well as removing a corral, a sheep shearing shed, and miles of barbed-wire fencing, in order to bring a close to the property’s former chapter.
In their place, we planted hundreds of fruit trees, expansive vegan-organic gardens, fields of flowers, and fragrant flowering shrubs and trees to provide a haven for butterflies, bees and native pollinators.
For over 20 years now, our dedicated team has spent New Zealand summers transforming this magnificent piece of countryside into an international site for vegan education, where people now come from all over the world to learn about the ‘whys and hows’ of vegan living.
People come to Gentle World from all over to learn from our team of vegan educators, all of whom have been vegan for anywhere from two to five decades. Here are some videos that share Gentle World’s story and the experiences our visitors have – in their own words.
Garden therapy and humane agriculture
Many of our visitors are vegans who want to learn how to grow their own food without the use of animal products. At both of our visitor center locations, our demonstration gardens show the principles of veganic growing in action.
Our visitors are given the opportunity to learn, through hands-on experience, how to grow wholesome plant foods not only organically (which is without the use of chemicals) but veganically, which is without the use of any animal by-products.
Just as vegans avoid animal products in the rest of our lives, we also avoid using animal products in the garden, such as blood and bone, feather meal, fish emulsion, and manures. As these products may carry harmful pathogens from intensive animal production operations, vegan-organic gardening is also a safer, healthier way to grow.
In veganic growing situations, soil fertility is maintained using vegetable compost, green manures, crop rotation, mulching, and other sustainable, ecological methods.
See our veganic gardening resources for more information about this future-focused method of growing, as well as tips to grow your own food veganically.
Shangri-La's master grower and veganic educator
Under the caring hand of master veganic grower Magic Rees, our gardens have become abundant providers of a varied array of nutritious farm-fresh leafy greens, as well as celery, carrots and beets, cucumbers, sweet corn, tomatoes, butternut squash, potatoes, sweet onions, and even watermelons.
In the years since he’s been working with Gentle World, Magic has become a friend and teacher to countless people at Gentle World’s New Zealand center. Visitors from all over the world count themselves fortunate to have worked alongside him, while sharing in his valuable knowledge, and learning how they can benefit from the vegan way of living and gardening.
As our pictures show, we haven’t had a problem generating bumper harvests with our veganic methods.
Not only do our gardens produce an abundance of different veggies, we also enjoy delicious veganic fruits such as our very own plums, pears, apples, blueberries, avocados, and mandarin oranges.
Magic Rees has been an organic grower since 1980. In 1989, he co-founded the Far North Organics Association in New Zealand, for which he served as Farm Certifier for 10 years. In 2000, he became Shangri-La’s head gardener and veganic educator.
Case study: Non-violent possum-proofing for orchards
New Zealand farmers struggle to keep their crops protected against the appetites of possums, whose experience in fruit and vegetable farms seems to be much like that of ‘a kid in a candy store’. As a result, most New Zealand growers consider possum-killing efforts to be an essential part of their farming operations.
Farming with possums presents a specific challenge to our growing efforts, and for years our fruit trees were unable to produce due to being attacked and ravaged.
Unwilling to compromise on our vegan ethic, our innovative volunteers developed a cutting-edge aluminum orchard collar that actually prohibits possums from jumping into the trees and sampling the fruit.
The next few seasons were a test to see whether the trees would recover, but we are proud to announce that the initiative has been a success, and our orchards are now fruitful indeed!
We’re proud to be pioneering some of the first truly nonviolent solutions to this situation, and we hope to inspire other farms to do the same.
With Shangri-La surrounded by native bush, we’ve had to find creative ways to live and farm alongside these persistent garden explorers. Living with possums presents a challenge, but we focus on finding nonviolent solutions.
Teaming up with Te Whare Rongoā (House of Medicine)
For several years now, Gentle World has provided farm-sourced vegan catering and veganic produce for the Te Whare Rongoā program, as well as partnering on various educational events and cooking classes at their location in Kaitaia town.
In order to provide an even greater variety of plant-foods to their participants, the team at Te Whare Rongoā helped us to expand the Shangri-La gardens in 2019, sponsoring the fencing of an entirely new garden site.
Serving NZ’s Far North community with a high percentage of Maori clients, Te Whare Rongoā (House of Medicine) offers well-being services through education in plant-based food and herbal medicine.
Vegan Cooking & Catering
Vegan cooking classes
Whenever we host events to spread the world about vegan living, we often receive requests to follow up with an in-person cooking class.
As well as demonstrating some of our favorite vegan recipes, we always make a point of providing an introduction to various vegan products that are available at the supermarkets and health food stores, showing that it’s easier than ever to be vegan.
Gentle World catering
Gentle World has a proud, multi-decade history of catering healthy, delicious vegan food. We welcome the opportunity to exercise our creative cooking skills, while demonstrating how scrumptious and satisfying vegan food can be.
Wherever possible, we include produce from our own veganic gardens – including potatoes, carrots, beets, zucchini and fresh sweet corn.
On Saturday, March 12th, Gentle World volunteers hosted a free vegan cooking class at our favorite NZ venue: The Herb Shack. With 22 attendees who showed lots of interest in the vegan culinary techniques, the day was a fantastic success!
We’ve been pioneers of the vegan movement for over 40 years,
inspiring change through education, advocacy, and innovation.
How You Can Help
What you can do to help us awaken the vegan in everyone:
If you’re not yet vegan, this is the most significant thing you can do. In today’s world, billions upon billions of nonhuman animals are exploited to serve human purposes, just like human slaves. Their owners are legally entitled to subject them to unimaginable cruelty in the name of profit, convenience, and fulfilling the desires of consumers. Every non-vegan choice contributes to this atrocity. The rising tide of vegans, on the other hand, is the hope these enslaved individuals have for emancipation from this brutal existence.
Help others to become vegan
Moral paradigm shifts do not cause themselves. They are caused by small groups of people within society who persistently educate others why change is necessary. By becoming an advocate for veganism, you can join a growing, positive, and peaceful movement to foster respect for the natural world, protect and restore public health, and most important, to end the social acceptability of violence and injustice inflicted on our fellow animals.
Make use of the GW resources
We share the best of what we publish on our newsletter and on our social media channels, and we pride ourselves on providing high-quality, informative content that also inspires the reader. When you encounter material of ours that touches you, you can help increase its impact by sharing it with your own friends and followers.
Write for us!
If writing is your thing, and you’re passionate about using your talents to help, consider becoming a contributor to the Gentle World website. We’re currently open to submissions for our Vegan Living section, so if you have the knowledge and the skill, please feel free to reach out and introduce yourself.
Make a financial contribution
You can make a one-time or recurring donation here. You can also support us by visiting our online store, and by using the affiliate links on our site. Partnerships with select vegan companies are one of the ways we raise funds for our educational programs.