Unexpected TikTok star Terressa Kollat on her 'real and relevant' videos about living off the whenua

Terressa Kollat has lived off the whenua all her life, with Papatūānuku being her pantry and Tangaroa being her fridge. 

And at 53 years old, she's unexpectedly become a TikTok star, clocking in millions of views.

"I just take videos of what I'm doing at the time, so it's real and relevant. There's no makeup or hair or fancy clothes, it is as we are doing it," Kollatt told The Hui.

Living off the whenua, and doing so sustainably, it's the type of mātauranga people want to know more about, especially rangatahi. 

"I had thought that they wouldn't be the young ones, I thought they'd be more interested in technology. But a lot of my followers are young teenagers." 

She shares her knowledge with her following of over 100,000 on social media but has begun taking people out with her - free of charge.

"Half the problems we have in today's age are because of money. There shouldn't be a price paid on something that's here for free. The only thing I pay for personally is petrol," Kollat said.

"Some people I have might just come out with me because I want to know how to get a feed a meal. Others just for mental health."

When Kollat isn't working full-time at the Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter, she volunteers in schools teaching tamariki about nature. 

On top of that, she's also capturing adventures and making TikToks, using her platform to advocate for the environment and teaching the next generation to protect Papatūānuku.

"You don't have to be hunting and gathering to be sustainable. We've got to think about what we're buying, what chemicals we're using when we go to the supermarket - because it's affecting our environment." 

Made with support from Te Māngai Pāho and the Public Interest Journalism Fund.