Rongoa Maori Medicine is a traditional, indigenous practice that has been observed in Aotearoa (NZ) since the arrival of Maori on the first canoe – a tradition that they followed from Hawaiki; with its origins deeply entrenched from a lore that goes way back to the dawn of man – using plants as our medicine to effectively treat every possible ailment.
Traditional Rongoa Maori Medicine was once only ever practiced by the Tohunga, who would be chosen as a child and trained as an apprentice in the skilled art of karakia, incantations and medicine making – all under an established Tohunga to learn their expertise.
Rongoa Maori Medicine covers a range of healing modalities including Rakau (native plant medicines), Mirimiri, Romiromi, Tikanga, Karakia and incantations. It is a practice that is specifically for healing on a holistic, multi dimensional level – encompassing spiritual, psychological, emotional, cultural, social, environmental and family dimensions, as well as physical health.
More recently Rongoa Maori Medicine has become increasingly popular. There has been a huge resurgence of interest as people seek more effective healing, and look towards nature in our own ngahere (bush) for the answers. There has also been a lot of interest in the use of Rongoa in natural medicine, which has attracted special interest groups of natural health practitioners and herbalists seeking it’s healing potential, traditional uses and knowledge.
A lot of our plants have now been tested in laboratories, their contents measured and specified and their purpose and properties analysed and recorded … with some remarkable results. This has changed the face of Rongoa in the 21st century, resulting in the birth of it’s own genre in holistic natural medicine – a medicine that is revered by the rest of the world. In some overseas countries, our medicine has been exploited, patented and branded in anti-ageing products (using Black Mamaku) and pain relief products (using Pukatea).
However, those born of this land know that the real healing potential/energy in Rongoa Maori Medicine comes from keeping it’s integrity; by using the correct tikanga and protocols, working with wairua and connecting to the mauri of the plant, which is the key to potentising its effectiveness.
In the last 20 years, traditional healing techniques have been increasingly incorporated into the services of Maori health providers. This increase in popularity has been intensified by the failure to improve Maori health status; the cost of treatment to see a doctor and prescription medicines; loss of faith in the Western “allopathic” health treatment model; and increased interest in using a more natural traditional and holistic approach to health care.