Wiremu Niania, born in 1949 and of Tuwharetoa, Ngati Kahungunu, Tuhoe descent, was adopted into the Niania whanau in Tiniroto. Raised by his kuia, Te Awhimate Niania, he displayed spiritual awareness from a young age, guided closely in mahi wairua practice.
Apprenticed to his kuia, who was considered a tohunga, Wiremu assisted with mahi wairua from his teenage years. Besides his spiritual journey, he has diverse life experiences, including work as a shearer, fencer, scrubcutter, musician, songwriter, Maori activist, and youth worker.
In 1999, Wiremu studied Mental Health with Indigenous Training and Consultants, later joining the Maori cultural therapy team in Gisborne Hospital's mental health unit. His unique approach to mental health and spiritual distress earned him a role as a cultural therapist at Te Whare Marie, Specialist Maori mental health service, until 2010.
Collaborating with Allister Bush, Wiremu authored "Tatai Hono: Stories of Maori Healing and Psychiatry," winning the Ashton Wylie Book Award in 2014. A sought-after presenter, he speaks globally on topics like traditional healing in clinical settings.
In 2019, Wiremu and his wife, Lesley, founded a school to develop matekite and train Mahi Wairua practitioners. Since then, over 1,800 people have come through the school learning about Matekite and over 25 graduated as Matanga Mahi Wairua practitioners in 2022 with another 50 trainees currently and the 2024 intake about to begin.