Our Story


GEM (Green Eyed Māori) Cuisine

GEM (Green Eyed Māori) Cuisine is about creating fresh kai fusions. Drawing from our genealogical roots of Māori, Rarotongan and European, GEM Cuisine is about the connection of all of these ancestry lines into a fresh kai fusion that is affordable and will keep you coming back for more.

Like our name suggests we believe food or kai is a GEM in our society and something that can be used to connect people together. In our fast-paced “fast-food” orientated society, we often forget to stop, take a breath, be present and enjoy the company of our loved ones, workmates and whānau. So GEM cuisine wants to remind people of that connection by encouraging people to share kai with each other.

We pride ourselves on making our kai fresh with manaakitanga and aroha. Or what we like to call the GEM Cuisine 'secret ingredients'.

But why take our word for it, jump over to our 'Make a Booking Page' and taste the kai for yourself!


Who are we?

Tihema Johnson (Head Chef)

Born and bred in Gisborne Tihema is our head chef of GEM cuisine and the “Green Eyed Māori” that has inspired our business name. He loves to make food for others and to use his extensive experience in our local chef/hospitality scene and his ancestry of Rarotongan, Māori and European descent to inspire the food he makes.

Although hard to believe now, Tihema's journey with food has not always been so positive, as a young man, Tihema spent a part of his life using food as an escape from the trials and tribulations of life. However, over the past ten years Tihema turned his life around and started to eat healthier, engage in a healthier lifestyle and found the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which changed his life. He now rarely misses a Jiu Jitsu class and has found his relationship with food has shifted as well, he now wants to share this new philosophy around food and sees the shift as a complete lifestyle change, one that others can achieve too.

Renee Wikaire (Head whānau-centric business strategist)

The other half of GEM Cuisine is Renee Wikaire, if Tihema is master behind all of the kai then Renee would be the master behind the “business side” of GEM Cuisine. Being the small whānau-centric business we are she's also the dishy, head cookie maker and anything else that needs doing!

Renee was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, on her mother's side she's Irish, Scottish and French and on her fathers side she hails from the Far North of Te Tai Tokerau (Ngāpuhi nui tonu rāua ko Ngāti Whātua). Renee has a passion for helping our whānau to adopt healthier lifestyles and a background in health, wellness, nutrition, mindset, and business. Renee is passionate about sharing this wealth of knowledge through GEM Cuisine.


Why we started GEM Cuisine?

Tihema and Renee were driven to start this professional catering service due to seeing a gap in the local market and a desire to provide our local community with high quality kai that is nourishing for the body.

They also wanted to create a business together that could combine their passions and could build something so they could spend more time together rather than both working a 9 - 5 mahi. Together they hold this combined future vision for their little whānau, a vision in which they can spend their life enjoying it as a whānau.

So here's to humble beginnings e te whānau, as always GEM Cuisine would not have been able to start without the love, support and endless hours of koha time from our friends and whānau.

So, if you're keen to order some delish kai, then head on over to the Make a booking page.

Meitaki Maata,
Tihema and Renee