The business making bread with Māori values

Pokere Paewai for RNZ

A Māori-owned bakery in Wellington is bringing pretzels, rēwena bread and manaakitanga to its new store in the eastern suburbs.

Little Bread Loaf owner Lynda McGregor is expanding her bakery's reach with a second store in Miramar to match its Lower Hutt bakery.

McGregor (Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Kuia, Te Atiawa, Te Whānau a Apanui, me Te Atihaunui a Pāpārangi) worked in the public sector for 25 years before her childhood memories of rēwena bread sparked a renewed interest in the world of breadmaking.

"I was standing in my kitchen in my house in Lyall Bay and I was thinking about rēwena bread, and then realised I only had one auntie who was left alive who knew how to make rēwena bread, and then I went on the journey of teaching myself how to make that."

She began filming her trials and successes with rēwena on YouTube and the bakery began to take off.

"As a single parent I was on a very small income, and I thought if I can make bread and I can teach people how to make bread, then people will never be hungry. So it started from a place of need and wanting to sustain my whānau and my children, then it grew into teaching."

McGregor said food sovereignty, giving people the tools to produce their own kai, is an incredibly important part of her business. Her rēwena recipe was developed for anyone to use.

"How I teach people to make that starter bug is really simple... anybody can take flour, they can take potatoes, they can take water and a little bit of sugar and they can turn it into a product that will sustain their whānau."

When McGregor, a Lyall Bay local herself, saw an opportunity to open a shop in Miramar she took it - especially since the bakery was already well-known enough that she was making special deliveries on her commute home from Lower Hutt.

"I used to deliver here after work on a Sunday because people couldn't come out to Alicetown, so then I started to deliver to them. And we have a very good reputation for our food, but more importantly we have a very good reputation for our manaaki and how we look after our customers."

McGregor said tikanga was her point of difference as a Māori-owned business.

"Of course I'm passionate about my rēwena bread, I'm passionate about our bakery but I'm also passionate about Māori in business and business model I've created."

Values like manaakitanga (hospitality) and whakawhanaungatanga (relationship building) were at the heart of her business, she said.

"I'm in business, I'm in business to make money, I'm in business to stimulate the economy - but we do it in a way that sits very close to our values and my values as Māori.

"At the centre my business is about manaaki, so that's how we look after each other, how we look after our customers and how we look after our surroundings."