Plant-based Locals: Tess Stevens

In the third episode of Plant-based Locals, Alex talks to to Tess Shaw, a chef and mum bringing her family up vegan. Amongst sharing her thoughts on making the transition to a plant-based lifestyle she shares a really easy and delicious-sounding vegan Mac n’ ‘cheese’ recipe! Thanks for talking to us Tess..


Gizzy Local’s Alex Andrews talks to some locals about their plant-based lifestyles and what it’s like being vegan in Te Tairāwhiti. In this first episode Alex talks to long-time vegan, Renee Raroa who is also one of the people behind the Facebook Page, Vegans of Tairāwhiti, a social group for vegans, plant eaters and those keen to transition to being vegan.


In this episode of Plant-Based Locals, Alex Andrews talks to Tiago Kerber. Tiago moved to a vegan way of life about the same time as he moved to Gisborne about two years ago. For those of you who haven’t found it yet, Tiago and friends recently opened up a dedicated vegan joint called Zephyr, based in the former Wainui Store. It’s an awesome addition to our Gisborne eateries catering to plant-based locals. We love your commitment Tiago, thanks for investing in our community with such a whole-hearted vision!


Revive is a three-day-long festival being brought to life by two brothers Jock and Sam alongside an array of collaborators from all over the country here in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa, Gisborne from the 2nd of January 2021. 

Despite sitting bang in the middle of Summer Festival season, Revive is not your average summer festival, aiming as it does to elevate its attendees to a state of uplift, joy, connectedness, and wellbeing, with a whole lot of fun as we transition into a brand new year. 

After resigning from their jobs as Geotechnical Engineers Sam and Jock decided to finally action an old dream that had lain dormant for some time – a soul mission to help improve the mental health of Kiwi communities, through making wellness and holistic health more mainstream and accessible.  The idea of a Festival in which people can show up as they are and gain useful lessons and experiences to either start or further a personal wellbeing journey became the starting point for their mission. 

Sam and Jock spent the winter of 2020 traveling the country, North to South, sleeping in the rooftop tent on Sam’s truck and visiting every holistic health establishment they could find, from organic produce stores to yoga studios, wellness teachers, instructors, speakers, and health advocates seeking out like-minded folk keen on contributing to the vision.

The result of that trip is Revive Festival, which they describe as three days of conscious celebration, a combination of wellness retreat and music festival; bringing together experiences that move participants physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Live music, light and art installations, delicious nourishing food, speakers and workshops in yoga, meditation, breathwork, fitness, ecstatic dance, healing, art, and wellness make up the lineup, which can also be seen as a toolbox of tricks with which to set out on a more connected, present and joyful 2021.

Revive Festival is also an opportunity to experience a tranquil and magical setting with lowland native bush, some of the country’s oldest trees as well as viognier grape vineyards; a lush setting in which to ground yourself and reset. The standard ticket price includes camping, but there are also VIP glamping options available. Having both lost friends to mental health, an emphasis on Mental Health awareness is key for both Jock and Sam and a sum of their revenue will be donated to the mental health foundation of New Zealand.

Jock and Sam encourage people to ‘come as you are and leave inspired for more’. They hope that Revive will be a time and a space in which for people to connect with themselves and their tribe, from which people will take away useful lessons and experiences that will ultimately make their health and wellbeing journeys easy, realistic, and enjoyable.

* Day Passes are available/kids under 12 are FREE/12-15 year olds half price

You can check out the details and purchase your tickets for Revive Festival 2021 here:


I recently resigned from my job to look after my mental health. Just a few hours later I found myself sitting next to Sarah from Gizzy Local and somehow, in a brief kōrero, we shared honesty and understanding around mental health. 

After I left my job I thought life was going to get better, and then even better. But that’s not always how the story goes. I remember lying in bed, feeling physically incapable of getting up. I wondered how much water I needed, to replace the stuff streaming from my eyes. I felt groggy drunk with shame and inadequacy. The work I’d left was not easy by anyone’s standards, but the incredible people around me were sticking it out, with far busier lives and way more on their plate than me, so why couldn’t I? 

I slid a prescription across the pharmacy counter and felt like I’d failed. Having spent the last 10 years managing my mental health without medication — through exercise, meditation, creativity and mindset education — here I was. Antidepressants can take up to 4 weeks to work. Yikes. It sounded like a very long time. 

Back in bed, popping my first pill, I read through the long list of potential side-effects like it was the menu at a really bad restaurant. Insomnia was the special of the day, with a side of nausea and dizziness. Slamming the door shut to the one place I could escape to, I spent 4 nights owl-eyed in bed while venlafaxine tried to rally the sad and sluggish neurotransmitters in my brain.

Telling my flatmates (puffy eyed and wearing a dressing gown) that ‘I’ll return as a butterfly!’, I drove non-stop to Wellington to cocoon away with whānau and be looked after while adjusting to the medication. I manifested a transformation. It took longer than expected and I kept thinking “next week I’ll find work and get myself back together.”  It didn’t feel true even as I said it. My body and mind demanded stillness and patience while wings formed beneath my skin. It was a few weeks before I noticed they were there and longer still for them to unfurl. 

Now I’m a full-time artist pumping things out on social media as I take on an art challenge for the last 100 days of my twenties. It all looks very “go-get-it-girl!” and it’s nice to feel and share the excitement. It also feels important to share my humanness and be authentic. The project was born from a vulnerable and challenging place. I’ve bounced back with a resiliency owed to mental health education, financial security, family support and no dependants. 

When I think of those among us who live with depression while managing things like poverty, family violence, drug or alcohol abuse and the responsibility of looking after kids or the elderly, I recognise the incredible strength in our community and how many unsung courageous individuals we have here. 

One day, I’d like to be as comfortable telling my boss I need a day off for my mental health, as I would telling them that I have a cold. One of the top 5 leading causes of death in Aotearoa is people taking their own lives and yet we are still not in a place where taking “mental health days” is encouraged, normalised or fully accepted. Are we okay with that? Sharing our stories and strategies helps reduce shame and shows how common but complicated mental illness is. Checking in on each other, normalising kōrero about mental illness and encouraging healthy social catch-ups (e.g. a hīkoi up Titirangi instead of a beer) are all ways that we can make a change.

It’s no fun being swallowed up, but when the black dog spits you out, you might just catch the wave of your life.

* * *

Words & Moving Images by Stephanie Barnett. Photograph X Ellen Taylor

Find more of Steph’s work & follow her 100 day project on Instagram @ stephmarybarnett or



So you made it out of lockdown. You learnt a language. Mastered the downward dog and achieved a symbiotic relationship with your garden. Well done. Your only regret – You never could quite nail that sourdough. No rise, no tight crumb, or is it a loose crumb… Whatever. All you managed was to bake a sticky slop into what you referred to as a ‘Middle Eastern flatbread.’ I get it.

Sourdough is proper tricky if you don’t have a pair of hands and eyes which have been through the process of a good bake. The tactile feel for great dough is built upon many dud loaves half-baked.

I’ve spent the last four months digging down the floury rabbit hole, kneading the kinks and tricks out of the internet and piles of flour so you don’t have to – that perfect loaf can still be yours.

Even if you’re not going to revive that old starter, after reading this you’ll know where you went wrong, and pray to God we don’t go back into lockdown – hope to your lucky quarantine stars you find this information useless.

Rule number one: Take your time. Sourdough is like friendship. You needn’t do a lot, but be present when they need you. The fermentation process takes approximately four hours once you add your starter to the flour and water in warm weather. Read that again. In warm weather. Apologies to remind you again, but in this country, we are both free of Covid-19 and insulated houses. Even in a so-called ‘warm’ house, the windows are thin and the floors breathe. 

Chances are your dough will need a couple of extra hours to bring it to life. Ways around this: Leave your mixture under the heat pump or by the fire. I occasionally preheat the oven for a couple of minutes making a simple ‘proving box.’ Make sure no one turns the oven on while it’s in there.

Rule number two: Your starter needs peak life. You’ll see some recipes call for an extra step. Making a ‘levain’ or a ‘sponge.’ Basically, all they’re asking you to do is feed your starter right before you make your bread. This means that by the time you come around to mixing, your sourdough starter is full of life, ready to give your loaf the energy to seize the day and start eating away at all the goodness in your flour. 

Rule number three: Keep at it. Bread is love and bread is life. I never got into football because I was under the impression I was too old (seventeen), never learnt a language because I was beyond youth (twenty-three). Do you know Quincy Jones? Producer of the Beatles, Michael Jackson and every chart-topper you’ve heard. He’s pushing late eighties and he has started to learn Mandarin. Making a loaf is a journey and you never need get off the boat. If you keep your starter in the fridge you only need to feed it once a week… And if you’re super-duper lacking time, you can even freeze it! Laziness rules in the sourdough world.

Love is warm and so is bread. The breaking of bread is a religious experience. There is life inside of food, made with your two hands, it gives a certain kind of pleasure unknown to the capitalist state of mind. By baking, it is possible to consume without being consumerist.

Baking bread helps me rise; the act has become a cathartic exercise. Instead of being an unachieving nobody that’s going nowhere slow. With a little morning effort mixed with a dash of vague and dotty attention to wheat and water, my day fills the house with the crusty and toasted aroma of life. The pleasure of passing a loaf warm bread to a friend is an act of self-love shared. But I don’t do it for them. After I’ve dropped theirs off, I head home and cut myself a thick slice of bread, lather it up and down in butter and sit content.

Story by Jack Marshall

Photograph X Tom Teutenberg


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