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Kia ora Whanau..I have pieced together from various sources a bit of information on rongoa to share... I hope it thing to remember...rongoa IS NOT a quick fix! You have to do the mahi.

Rongoā Māori

Rongoā Māori is the traditional healing system of Māori.
It focuses on the oral transmission of knowledge, diversity of practice and the spiritual dimension of health. ...

In early Māori history Tohunga were seen as the earthly medium of the controlling spirits and influenced all aspects of life.

Why is Karakia used when practicing Rongoa?

The karakia must come from our heart to allow the mauri (life force) to heal to become a vessel, a pathway to Io. It is the words that matter and the mauri that gives power to the words. (Pa Popata)

Spiritual aspects

Illness was often seen as spiritually based. Māori saw themselves as guardians of the earth, and the focus of their existence was to remain at one with the natural (and supernatural) world. Rather than a medical problem, sickness was often viewed as a symptom of disharmony with nature.

Illnesses were divided into mate atua (diseases of the gods) and mate tangata (whose symptoms were more clearly due to physical causes). Mate atua were often attributed to attacks by malevolent spirits, because the person had broken a tapu (religious restriction) – for instance, if they took food from a river where someone had died, or took a stick from a tree that had held their ancestor’s bones, and placed it on a cooking fire.
Rongoā Māori is a lifetime journey for those who care for or utilise it.

Rongoā Māori is seen in two main forms – rongoā rākau and Te Oo Mai Reia.

Rongoā rākau (plant remedies) are plant or tree-based medicinal remedies.
For examples of plants used in Rongoā Māori, see Demystifying Rongoā Māori – traditional Māori healing BPAC, NZ, 2008.

Te Oo Mai Reia (spiritual healing) utilises different physical techniques alongside spiritual ones. Te Oo Mei Reia can be seen as Māori healing through prayer, cleansing work and bodywork, known as mirimiri (massage) and kōmiri (deep massage). Please note: the name of this type of healing and the variations may change from iwi to iwi but the principles remain the same.

Traditional teachings

The most fundamental part of rongoā Māori is the traditional spiritual teachings, which can be seen as the basis of all traditional medicine. For Māori, rongoā is a part of the Māori culture from Tāne (God of the forest) who retrieved the three baskets of knowledge from Io (God) with the knowledge and teachings to guide us in this world.

As Māori, we believe we are part of the children of Tāne, along with the creatures of the forest such as the birds, trees and plants and, therefore, we have a strong connection to rongoā rākau.
To learn rongoā, people have to become apart of the world of Tāne.
They become connected and immersed in the forest, learning about a relationship far beyond the physical elements of the trees and plants.

To utilise Te Oo Mai Reia, the healer must become immersed in ancient spiritual teachings while becoming a vessel to achieve the healing through Io alongside the use of physical touch to create balance and shift energies.

When is Rongoā used?

I have much respect for all tohunga who utilise rongoā for healing to facilitate balance back into one's life force. The journey to becoming a rongoā practitioner varies from person to person and in more recent times is becoming more formalised.
In the past and even in more recent days, kaumātua from many iwi have feared the consequences of passing on their knowledge to those who may use it for the wrong reasons or skip the important lessons, therefore becoming liabilities to whānau and their patients due to mistakes.

Over the years rongoā practices have been seen as a scarcity that has encouraged those with the knowledge to come fourth and educate.
Rongoā is often used by kaumātua (elders) due to their knowledge and upbringing.
We must not forget that people have been using rongoā for thousands of years as an holistic system of healing, therefore may want to utilise this in conjunction or as an alternative to western medicine.
It is often used by those who are aware of healers in their area that provide rongoā, with clear instructions on how to use it correctly and safely.

The role of rongoā in pain management

Rongoā Māori can help manage your pain by changing the balance and negative energies within your body.

Although, Māori traditional medicine is more widely known for the medicinal properties from the native trees and plants, which is often used to address acute pain, the most fundamental part of all rongoā is the spiritual component.

The spiritual healing focuses more on the cause of pain, using techniques such as massage and prayers to help release negative energies.

Whānau may use rongoā rākau as a first line before seeking western medicine for a variety of conditions. For example, with regard to pain:

stomach aches: the shoot of the koromiko plant (hebe) is chewed

eye pain: the bark of houhere (lacebark) is soaked in cold water to form a jelly which is applied to the eyes

sore eyes: leaves of the makomako (wineberry) are boiled and also can be applied directly over the eyes

aches and pains: a compress of the leaves of karamū (coprosma) is applied to the painful area

joint aches: an infusion of the leaves of the māhoe (whiteywood) or the bark of makomako is bathed in

muscle aches, sprains, swollen joints: the leaves or all parts of the tutu/tūpākihi (Coriaria arborea) are boiled and applied to wounds as a poultice or the liquid used to soak in.
More commonly, these days, a towel maybe soaked in the hot infusion then applied to the painful area

bladder and kidney pain: the shoot of the karamū (coprosma) is boiled in water or an infusion is made of the leaves of the mānuka (red) or kānuka (white tī/tea tree) to drink

toothache: kawakawa (Māori pepper tree) leaves chewed to relieve toothaches and swelling associated or the liquid from boiled leaves of the matipo (māpau) is also effective.

A patient with acute or chronic pain may seek Rongoā rākau to treat the illness or area causing pain. They may then seek Te Oo Mei Reia to help understand the root cause of the pain, to allow for the process of healing through a combination of practices as discussed above.

How is rongoā collected and used safely?

For rongoā rākau to be utilised, the rongoā practitioner will have knowledge of the medicinal properties of the plants and trees and the safe practices.

🌻Their awareness of how to care for themselves when healing their patient is also important.

For rongoā rākau to be used safely, the practitioner must be open to the Māori world, first and foremost karakia.

Rongoā can be harvested differently iwi by iwi and healers will generally have their own special place they will harvest from.

The majority of principles will align with the following:

When do we harvest: when the light first touches the forest.
This is a time that we believe the plants/trees will reveal themselves for selection.
In addition, we must take time selecting which tree we shall harvest.

Karakia (prayer or blessing): everyone will karakia in their own way.

Some believe that the karakia tawhito, also known as takutaku or kaupare, karakia handed down by our ancestors pre-colonisation, is the only karakia that is appropriate.
However, teachings have shown the most important thing is to prepare ourselves from all the stresses of the living world in order to focus on the person or reason you are collecting rongoā.

The karakia must come from our heart to allow the mauri (life force) to heal to become a vessel, a pathway to Io.

It is the words that matter and the mauri that gives power to the words. (Pa Popata)

Harvesting: we only harvest what the tree is prepared to give, at a certain time of the day, with a person in mind/patient (tūroro) or a specific reason, using all our senses (sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing).
There are rules such as to never pick where someone else has just harvested.

We should never forget, "we not only take from the forest but also accept responsibility of being a carer (kaitiaki)”. (Pa Ropata)

Return what we have used back to the forest: this is a responsibility of all practitioners for many reasons. On a practical level we must give back the nutrients that remain within the plants/trees so that they can be reabsorbed by the forest to maintain its own wellbeing.

We karakia while giving thanks for the use of the forest's healing.

It is important that the practice around rongoā is upheld and maintained. The process not only ensures the practitioner is safe in choosing the right tree/plant but also in ensuring the pure ailments of healing is at its optimal.

Safety concerns

Some patients may be unwilling to admit to their doctor that they are using tradition rongoā. We must be open as practitioners so that we are fully aware of any conflict that may occur.

Some plants have toxic properties. so it's important that people who collect rongoā have the correct knowledge.
As people gain more knowledge we must remember that it is a lifetime journey with ancient traditions that must be adhered to in order to create optimal health.

POWER to the People



Wahine ma, anei etahi korero hei whakaaro, hei akoranga ma koutou.

He korero ano tenei
Please remember that the korero I share comes from a variety of sources, most of all from a couple of koroua from home, who have sadly gone now. Additionally, not all Moko artists or Moko enthusiasts espouse to this peka korero. For as many diverse Marae and Hapuu there are, there are also just as many diverse tikanga, korero and beliefs.

Most of the women I have put moko kauwae on I have used what is called the ‘takapau’, and the relevance of that name will become evident as the korero unfolds.

There are 5 parts to a ‘takapau’;
the ‘manawa’ – down the middle, the ‘paepaeroa’ x2 on either side, the ‘piihere’ lines under the bottom, the ‘ngutu-kura’ lines over the top lip and the ‘purua’ lips

The manawa is a very important and intangible ‘aho’ that ties everything together; spiritually and physically. Most Maori/people would know this.

For example humans have manawa that runs from the ‘Tipuaki’ or Puumotomoto at the top of the head, journeying down the torso and limbs, through the middle fingers and toes, through the heart, lungs, pito and sexual organs. It is the cord that connects all those things together with the sky and the earth.

Another example is the main ridge beam in a whare, known as the Taahuhu, has a ‘manawa’ that travels down each Heke and through the Puumotomoto of each Pou. That’s why there is a Pou-Toko-Manawa, to hold that manawa up.

A ‘manawa’ can also be an Awa (river) that connects the inland at its source to the sea and connects all the villages and people along it, from one end to the other.

The mat, the whaariki or ‘takapau’, also has a manawa upon which the recipient lies when the Moko is applied and even the manawa of the Moko kauwae lies on the manawa of the wearer. Traditionally the recipient lay upon the manawa and the tohunga sat at the head. The whanau supporting her sat on either side of the ‘takapau’ upon the ‘paepaeroa’ of the mat.

The ‘manawa’ pertains directly to the wearer and portrays her status within her immediate whanau, as in her female siblings. Status can only be one of two levels; Mataamua/Tuakana (first born/senior) female or Taina (junior).

To differentiate the two the mataamua/tuakana wore the ‘Mango-Pare’ (Hammer-head Shark) double headed Koru pointing upward toward the lip. If she is the taina, the Mango-Pare will point downward to the chest. We refer to them as 6’s & 9’s.

The primary objective of revealing the wearers status is to ensure the appropriate respect be given to her because, in the past, affording the appropriate respect to suit the status, maintained peace between tribes avoiding the risk of war.

As explained above the whanau/support sat on the paepaeroa of the takapau hence they too are referred to as the paepaeroa.
That concept is transferred over to the chin so the outer sides of the Moko kauwae, called paepaeroa, also represents the whanau/supporters, taking extra note of the status of her whanau/support member. Again the direction that the koru points, indicates the status.

These are the 2 hooklike patterns that drop down from the bottom lip on either side of the manawa.
They portray that the wearer is the preferred voice for either their whanau or the hapuu rangatira, providing advice or tuition. To be given the task of wearing a Moko kauwae is in itself a recognition that the wearer is capable of some form of service and plays an important leadership role for their whanau, hapuu or iwi.

In traditional times a young woman who had reached puberty, had the power to create a new life and was considered a valuable member of her people. In addition to a natural productive service she had also, by then, been groomed to lead in whanau affairs so could easily become a recipient of Moko kauwae. In those time they didn’t just have to achieve something before receiving Moko, it was just part of growing up.

So receiving a Moko kauwae meant that the whanau/paepaeroa believed she was capable of leadership, of being a voice, so they etched that belief into her chin. It symbolised her ability, status, influence, commitment and service to her collective and that collective was her own whanau.

Over time, as her experiences and wisdom progressed the more confident other people, outside of her whanau, became in her skill to represent a larger collective. The hapuu. Collectively the hapuu commissioned an extra line, the Ngutu-kura, etched above the top lip portraying her service to the hapuu.
Again, as she ages and her experiences, wisdom, advice and counsel excels to iwi scale, another Ngutu-kura is added signifying her service to the iwi.

This is when the lips are fully darkened, and its meaning is attached to being the whanau voice. I understand that its origins come from the blackened ngutu of the elaborately decorated personal taha, ‘Pikorau’ of Iranui, wife of Hingaangaroa.

Turuki Health Care

Tamatea Kai Ariki. Tamatea is in a destructive mood. This time of maramataka is a time of unpredictability. Tawhirimatea is Atua of wind, he is a blind Atua - he removed his eyes in rage and disappointment. Thus becoming a blind Atua, he is known as a Matangaro, a hidden face. He hides his face and became a hidden face. We can’t see the wind, but we can see and feel it’s effect on us, on the environment, the moving of tree branches, grass swaying. It is the same with people, in this time we want to hide our face when things are not going our way and we ourselves become a hidden face.

On this day, check in on you’re whanau and friends and think about who’s face you have not seen for a while. Ring them, text them and see if they are well. Take time time to connect and bring warmth to someone you have not seen for a while. Don’t delay and reconnect with our loved ones on this day.
As always if you need us call our wellness team 0800 493 552

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