Tēnā ano tātou – thank you for all of your support for last week’s blog! It is such an extraordinary privilege working with our Kaumatua and Kuia and sharing their kōrero with you. Feeding back the response from all the readers is ‘icing on the cake’.
Here is our next instalment by our Kuia, Rihia Kenny, about her experience of with Rongoā Māori. And don’t forget – next week you have the opportunity to meet with both Kuia Rihia and Te Waari here at Te Papa.
Where: Te Ihomatua Gallery, Level 4, Te Papa.
When: Friday 24th of October, 12.30pm – 1pm
Rihia Kenny – Ngati Toa, Ngapuhi, Te Ati Awa
As a child, I was able to correctly identify and collect rongoa for my elders. The preparation and dispensing of rongoa medicines and treatment such as mirimiri (massage) and mahi wairua (karakia and spiritual healing) was not unusual to me.
I still remember vividly, the positive effects rongoa Maori had on the people who came for healing. I also remember as a teenager how quickly the practise seemed to ‘die out’ and people began visiting the local GP for western medicines.
I have worked in Health for over 30 years. In the late 1980’s, I noticed that the use of rongoa medicines was again returning and becoming popular. At that time, the late Te Awhina Riwaka was running weekly clinics at her home in Porirua. She invited people who were ill, and those willing to learn about rongoa, to attend her clinics. I gratefully seized the opportunity.
In December 2011, I became involved with a new National Governance body ‘Te Kahui Rongoa Trust’ which was established to protect, nurture and promote rongoa Maori. The Trust reminds us that rongoa is a taonga tuku iho (a precious gift) handed down to us as (kaitiaki) guardians, to pass on to future generations. It is important for us to create an environment that ensures our traditional knowledge and practices are upheld with respect and integrity.
Today I feel obligated to safeguard the knowledge, and the cultural and intellectual property of Rongoa. My wish for the future is to gain acceptance and support among medical practitioners of Aotearoa.
For more information about Te Kahui Rongoa Trust, go to www.Rongoamaori.org.nz