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Scottish-born Steven Horne has been living in New Zealand since 1990. Living is the operative world, as he almost died not once, but three times. His life story is one of highs and lows that could definitely, writes Lorraine Thomson, be the substance of a dram-ma Hollywood movie.

Description: Steven, now 49, has had every kind of medical condition you could imagine

Steven, now 49, has had every kind of medical condition you could imagine.

Largely due to his hefty weight [160kg at his heaviest] Steven, now 49, has had every kind of medical condition you could imagine and then some – type two diabetes, pancreatic disease, renal failure, liver damage and ascites [accumulation of fluid].

Due to living life in the fast lane, much of Steven's health issues stemmed from or were escalated by alcoholic abuse. His biggest success, he says, was beating the booze and being sober for over a decade.

After playing professional rugby league in the UK, he came to New Zealand – a country he regarded as the mecca of rugby.

“I was living a privileged life, but I was not a nice person. I consulted and worked for some of the world's wealthiest influential people and organizations. I had two children here, but it was all about me. I would take advantage of situations. I destroyed everything that was valuable to me n my life.”

Steven turned from caring only about himself to caring about others, especially New Zealanders – and he wants to give back.

The turning point was when he was given 18 months to live and he went off to Hong Kong to live his last days.

Description: Tao Ti Green Tea

“I stared to drink bottled green tea and I ended up losing weight. I was drinking six or seven bottles of this tea a day. I became addictive.”

He was eating Asian seafood, but no bread. The green tea drink was increasing his metabolism to burn fat and increasing his immunity with natural antioxidants. He couldn't believe his luck – and he lived to tell the tale.

“I brought this Tao Ti Green Tea to New Zealand and thought this would be a good business opportunity. It failed to start with, due to the bitter taste, so I added the natural sweetener stevia. I wanted to make a funky drink New Zealanders would like. This became the first ready to drink real green tea using stevia – the first in the world.”

The drink was developed in response to Steve's belief “it is high sugar beverages that are killing children and causing life-threatening obesity”.

Largely through drinking Tao Ti green tea, Steven dropped 51kg in 13 months.

Description: Largely through drinking Tao Ti green tea, Steven dropped 51kg in 13 months

Largely through drinking Tao Ti green tea, Steven dropped 51kg in 13 months

“It just kept falling off.”

He hasn't been on medication for years now and his aim is to inspire others not to make the same mistakes he made.

“Diabetes and obesity is at pandemic levels. Someone had to do something.”

The weight loss, he says, is achievable with no exercise at all. He is, however, now that he has more energy, looking at going to his local gym. Former professional rugby league player Ruben Wiki is going to be his personal trainer.

“So inspired by my vision of reducing obesity, many high profile people support me, including several New Zealand sporting icons,” he says.

“With all the fantastic health benefits, it was important I got my family onto it as soon as possible.” said rugby icon Keven Mealamu.

As far as his food intake goes, Steven eats a lot of protein and likes the occasional treat.

His green tea business is now selling 800 cases every month in New Zealand in three flavours [peach, apple and pineapple] to cafes, bars, restaurants, night clubs and gyms. The aim is to distribute the product throughout Australasia. A new brand soon to appear on his bottles, esebo, stands for obese [spelt backwards].

Green tea, he notes, is growing 22 per cent globally and is the second most consumed drink in the world, behind water.

Description: Tao Ti Green Tea- More Events

Along with launching a new bottled green tea. Steven set up a charity, the Bank of Dreams Charitable Trust, Former All Black Waka Nathan is one of the trustees.

Every bottle of Tao Ti purchased contributes to the trust, which sponsors teams and groups that encourage healthy activity and provides fundraising for clubs or groups, with the vision to turn around obesity. Steve is definitely passionate about making a difference.

Much of the idea for this came from the movie Pay it Forward – the story of a young boy who starts a chain reaction of goodness for his social studies project. His vision is simple: Do a good deed for three people, and instead of expecting them to pay you back, ask them to pay it forward to three more people. This story reflects the inspiration behind Tao Ti's philosophy, not just to be a sustainable business, but to make a difference in the live of the people who drink the products and to the wider community who have so much to benefit through better health.

Ambassador for the product and TV presenter Jo Holley is a loyal supporter.

“After reading Steve’s story and vision to inspire and give hope to so many people, I had to be involved,” she says. “I am proud to be the Face of Tao Ti.”

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