A Te Aka Whai Ora-funded rongoā partner is offering whānau in Te Tai Tokerau the opportunity to reconnect to their ao Māori, through rongoā Māori, to address their physical and spiritual health needs.

Hohou Te Rongoā is a service based in Te Tai Tokerau that has four whare oranga (clinics) in Kaikohe, Moerewa, Haruru and Whangarei. The service offers a range of traditional Māori healing that includes mahi wairua, mahi tinana and taiao-based healing, and is available to both Māori and non-Māori.

Kingi Kiriona, Maiaka Mātauranga Māori | Deputy Chief Executive Mātauranga Māori, Te Aka Whai Ora, says this is an example of Te Aka Whai Ora funding culturally responsive, accessible services, for those who want access to traditional healing methods.

“Rongoā plays a really important role in the lives of whānau. The holistic and indigenous system of healing hauora in Aotearoa is crucial to the current and future wellbeing of many.

“It can be used in all four cornerstones of te whare tapa whā - the four cornerstones of Māori health and wellbeing – taha tinana (physical health), taha wairua (spiritual health), taha whānau (family health), and taha hinengaro (mental health) as a holistic wellbeing approach.   

“Rongoā is a taonga, and it can be a missing link to achieving equity in our healthcare in Aotearoa.”

Meeshla Nathan (Ngāpuhi), a matakite (a person with heightened intuition) and rongoā Māori practitioner within Hohou te Rongoā, says many of the people they see are dealing with intergenerational trauma and a lost sense of identity that shows in things like depression and anxiety.

“The māuiui that we’ve seen include lots of different types of depression, addiction, and people are disconnected. The troubles are with their own hinengaro – they are battling themselves and their own identity. It affects them as parents, it affects them as tangata.”

She says kaimahi at Hohou Te Rongoā, led by tohunga (experts), use, and teach rongoā Māori to help individuals and whānau heal themselves in ways that are deeply founded in te ao Māori. It's so they can get well, stay well, and maintain that within their whānau, community, hapū and iwi.

“To be able to stop and hā ki roto (breathe in), hā ki waho (breathe out) and embrace your whakapapa and your tūpuna, that’s the rongoā.

“Karakia plays a vital role, before you start, during, and after. It helps us to connect with the divine. Everything that we are using, all the taonga tuku iho (traditional practices) that we use in rongoā, whether that’s kōhatu, rongoā rākau, it’s all in karakia because it comes from ngā atua.” 

She adds: “This allows us to embrace who we are and defeat the trauma and the pain.” 

Te Aka Whai Ora, which was established to drive transformative change to improve hauora Māori, has a specialist role to ensure the reformed health system responds to the needs and aspirations of Māori.

As was recognised by WAI 262, support and recognition of rongoā is central to this aim.