As part of hosting the 2017 Matariki’s Winter Festival the inaugural Trustees are launching a Health Care Awareness page on their website. The aim was to secure and stabilise economic growth directly following our post settlement treaty. This strategy was an essential starting point in order to develop further stated objectives in our Ngati Manuhiri Settlement Trust Deed such as; the promotion of education, health, and social and cultural advancement which will help develop and strengthen the people of Ngati Manuhiri.

For longer than I have been a trustee on the NMST, I have held a firm belief that the health awareness of Ngati Manuhiri people be strengthened. As a university graduate, mental health clinician and practitioner of over twenty years, like many people, I recognise the overall poor health statistics held for Māori by the Ministry of Health, in this country. Therefore, with the consent of my fellow trustees, I am igniting this initiative of ‘Self Care is Healthier Care’ by launching this on our website in order to raise awareness. For those in our tribe, who are health conscious, and or are health practitioners willing to share your knowledge about how Ngati Manuhiri people can become healthier. Your contribution is welcome.

Life expectancy at birth (2012 - 2014)

  • Male
  • Female
Proportion of Māori population who are physically active
Proportion of potentially hazardous drinking among the Māori population
Percentage of Māori population who currently smoke tobacco
Māori population over 15 who are obese

Rongoā – medicinal use of plants.

Māori used a range of traditional methods to deal with illness. Plants such as kawakawa, harakeke (flax), kōwhai and mānuka were all important for healing, and so was a belief in the spiritual causes of illness. Today rongoā – Māori medicine – is seeing a resurgence of interest.

What is rongoā?

Rongoā is traditional Māori medicine. It includes herbal medicine made from plants, physical techniques like massage, and spiritual healing.

Supernatural sickness

Māori believed that some illnesses – called mate atua – were caused by evil spirits. If a person broke tapu (a rule), they could get sick. A tohunga (priest) could fix this kind of illness. He would find out what had caused it, remove the spirit and heal the patient.

Methods of healing

Other illnesses were believed to have physical causes. They were treated by methods such as:

  • herbal remedies – drinks, poultices or lotions made from plants
  • using heat to relieve pain
  • blood-letting (cutting the skin to make it bleed)
  • putting plant sap on wounds to help them heal

European settlement and tohunga

When Europeans settled in New Zealand, they brought diseases with them, and many Māori became sick. Tohunga could not cure these new illnesses, so some people lost faith in them. Also, there were more tohunga who were not properly trained. In 1907 a law was passed to stop them working.

Rongoā today

Today there is new interest in many parts of Māori culture – including rongoā. People have turned to these traditional techniques to get help with difficult illnesses. Some healers combine Māori medicine with other methods.