SPECIAL NOTICE RE COVID-19:
Our New Zealand center is now closed for the winter months. We hope to reopen at the end of the year, but are unable to make any commitment to accepting visitors until we see how the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold.
Located in the Far North of the North Island, approximately 22 km south of the town of Kaitaia, Shangri-La is Gentle World’s New Zealand educational center.
Shangri-La is a model of vegan cooperative living, and a vegan sanctuary located 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 place of these reminders, 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 other 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.
Gentle World was granted Charitable Trust status in New Zealand in the year 2000, and since then, our educational outreach has continued to grow and expand.
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As part of our program, visitors have the opportunity to learn how to grow their own food… Not just organically, which is without the use of chemicals, but veganically, which is without the use of any animal by-products. This means we don’t use any animal manures, blood and bone, fish emulsion, or slaughterhouse sludge; all of which are considered acceptable by organic growing standards.
Magic Rees is Shangri-La’s head veganic grower and educator. In 1989, he co-founded the Far North Organics Association in New Zealand, where he served as a Board Member and Organic Inspection Certifier for ten years. In the year 2000, when he met Gentle World, he transitioned from organic to veganic, and became Shangri-La’s head gardener and veganic educator.
In the years since, Magic has become a friend and teacher to countless numbers of people at Gentle World’s New Zealand center. Visitors from all over the world have been fortunate enough to work alongside him, while sharing in his valuable knowledge, and learning how they can benefit from the vegan way of living and gardening.
Under Magic’s caring hand, 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.
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.
In 2011, we hosted a gathering of youngsters from the local Playcenter, hoping to show how fun and exciting it can be to grow (and eat!) fruits and veggies.
We took them on a tour of the Shangri-La veganic gardens, complete with taste-tests and a delicious vegan lunch for both kids and parents. It was a treat to provide these aspiring gardeners with an opportunity to see how plant foods grow, and to connect with the miracle of life that provides us with sustenance, medicine and joy, through plants that grow in the soil.
One of the highlights of the day was the harvesting (and eating!) of one of the season’s first veganic watermelons – a healthy and delicious summer treat for kids of all ages. And of course, both children and parents were served a healthy, delicious vegan lunch, to learn first-hand that food free from animal products can be fun, familiar, and filling.
In 2015, our 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 and begin to produce, but we are proud to announce that the initiative has been a success, and our orchards are now fruitful indeed!
We’re excited to be pioneering some of the first truly nonviolent solutions to this situation, and we have spent a huge number of volunteer hours toward developing methods that we hope will inspire others to bring their own farming practices in line with their values of nonviolence. We invite inquiries from those interested in learning more about how our methods can help other plant-food farming initiatives.
Partnering with Te Whare Rongoā
Te Whare Rongoā (House of Medicine) is a charitable trust in New Zealand’s Northland, offering well-being services through education in plant-based food and herbal medicine.
Gentle World has collaborated with Te Whare Rongoā since 2011, providing farm-sourced vegan catering and veganic produce for their program, as well as partnering on various educational events and cooking classes at their location in Kaitaia town.
In coming years, we aim to expand our partnership by adding more garden tours and workshops, as well as native plant medicine walks with Te Whare Rongoā’s medical herbalist Anah Van Dorp:
“Since 2011, Gentle World has provided a safe haven for our clients to come to for nurturing through diet and the healing power of nature after they’ve detoxed with us for any number of substance use disorders.
Currently, we offer our clients produce from their bountiful gardens. As far as traditional herbal rongoa (medicine) is concerned, we have a pristine environment here, away from roads and other pollutants for making the highest quality traditional Maori medicine.”
In order to provide an even greater variety of plant-foods to their participants, the team at Te Whare Rongoā have helped us to expand the Shangri-La gardens, sponsoring the fencing of an entirely new garden site, allowing us to plant more in 2020 than ever before, including new crops to feed Gentle World’s volunteers and visitors, as well as the participants in the Te Whare Rongoā program.
Gentle World has a proud, multi-decade history of catering healthy, delicious vegan food. Our partnership with Te Whare Rongoā has allowed us to continue that tradition, and we welcome the opportunity to exercise our creative cooking skills, while demonstrating how scrumptious and satisfying vegan food can be. We try to provide as much of the produce as possible from our own veganic gardens – including potatoes, carrots, beets, zucchini and fresh sweet corn.
Whenever we host a public educational event to spread the word about the reasons for vegan living, we almost always receive requests to follow up with an in-person cooking class. Te Whare Rongoā’s location in Kaitaia town is the ideal location. 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 for purchase at the supermarkets and health food stores, showing that it’s easier than ever to be vegan.
Other Local Community Outreach
In an area of New Zealand that is better known for the farming of sheep and cows than vegan education, Gentle World volunteers look for opportunities wherever possible to share delicious vegan food and enlightening information and inspiration with the residents of the small town of Kaitaia.
Te Ahu Film Screenings
We are excited to be able to make use of the fantastic community space available at the Te Ahu Cinema in Kaitaia town to provide educational film screenings free of charge to the public.
There is now a growing number of vegan documentaries that are helping to change hearts and minds, and we look forward to the opportunity to share more of these with our Far North local community.
Te Hiku Spirit, Mind, Body Health Expo
With close to 400 people coming through Kaitaia’s Te Ahu Center, Gentle World’s 2019 booth was met with unprecedented enthusiasm as our volunteers talked to attendees about the importance of veganism, offered samples of delicious vegan food, and spread the word about upcoming educational events, while also giving visitors to our booth the opportunity to consult with vegan physician Peter DeWolfe about the benefits of a plant-based diet. We look forward to next year’s Expo!
An Afternoon with Will Tuttle
When Dr. Will Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet, joined us to offer a free public event all the way back in 2014, the message was one of hope and change.
The celebrated author spoke to over 100 attendees about the profound connection between veganism and world peace. For some, these were their first glimpses of the truth behind our commodification of the sentient beings used by the animal industry.
Gentle World Inc. is a non-profit, 501(c) (3) educational organization,
incorporated in Florida in 1979, and based in Hawaii since 1989.
In 2000, the organization was also granted charitable trust status in New Zealand.