This article was written in collaboration with Te Hiku Media.

 

A new clinic has opened at Kaitaia Hospital that provides rongoā Māori (traditional Māori medicine) services to the community.

In the Te Tai Tokerau/Northland region of Te Ika a Maui/North Island, the Ngā Rongoā Māori clinic is a long-held aspiration of many rongoā practitioners in the region and will provide more pathways of healing for patients accessing health care.

It will be open every Wednesday from 9am will provide romiromi and mirimiri (massage), tohunga wairua (healing) and wai rākau services, as well as access to and knowledge about other forms of rongoā.

For many tohunga (healers) these practices went ‘underground’ following the passing of the Tohunga Suppression Act in Aotearoa/New Zealand in 1907. The Act was not repealed until 1962, resulting in the loss of many traditional practices.

The new clinic at Kaitaia Hospital brings rongoā Māori into a mainstream setting to provide greater access to those who need it.

“This represents what people have been wanting for a long time, and now that we’ve given it a place to be and we’ve set this … I think we’ll get [more] people coming to the hospital,” said Kaitaia Hospital’s clinical spokesperson, Dr Joel Pirini.

“We can break down some barriers to health care.”

Joanne Murray of Te Rarawa iwi (tribe) is thrilled at the clinic’s opening.

“It’s a safe place for our family to come to, where they can have a choice in their wellness … for us it’s a privilege and an honour to be able to provide this,” she said.

“For us to be able to bring our cultural healing, our traditional healing, back to a place where people need it the most, is something really special … this is the first time ever, it’s very significant.”

A clinic based in the Whangaroa community, an hour’s drive from Kaitaia, also hopes to open soon. 

By Hannah Cross