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Rongoā Rotorua kawakawa cleaning
  • * Tauira preparing kawakawa leaves for use in Rongoā.

A new “community outreach” approach is being taken to teaching Rongoā (traditional Māori healing) in Rotorua.

It’s giving students a greater chance to develop self-confidence in working with Rongoā while making services more accessible to local whānau.

The approach has been introduced by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Rongoā kaiako (teacher) Taratoa Ratema, who started teaching the Level 4 Certificate this year.

Previously she’d been involved with TWoA’s Manaaki Tāngata social work programme which included students gaining experience in the community.

“I’ve brought this approach to the way I’m teaching Rongoā. Under my supervision, the tauira (students) get to practice on people seeking traditional Māori Rongoā healing therapies, while members of the community get to access Rongoā services.”

Taratoa identifies groups of people wanting to access Rongoā through her community networks in Rotorua. Delivery of services has happened at the likes of marae and community centres.

Rongoā healing includes a wide range of techniques such as the use of traditional medicines (especially ones based on the “alpha” ingredient of kawakawa leaves), mirimiri and romiromi (massage), and waiora (water healing). All are underpinned by spiritual practices.

These services offered to the community have included:

  • Local Hauora (health) day at Pikirangi marae
  • Whānau Ora (family health)
  • Kaitiakitanga (Rongoā protocols)
  • Taiao wananga (environmental workshop)
  • Kaimahi Ora (wellbeing at work).

The course itself teaches:

Koha - using a broad range of reo structures and tikanga practice associated with Rongoā to enhance mana reo.

Kaitaikitanga - applying knowledge of tikanga concepts to the practice of Rongoā as an expression of mana whenua.

Āhurutanga - developing an understanding of the history and practice of Rongoā as an expression of mana tangata.

Mauri ora - applying and integrating a broad range of tikanga concepts and Rongoā practices as an expression of mana ao tūroa. 

Graduates of the course can pathway to working with Māori whānau and communities, and with local and regional bodies and agencies seeking to broaden their knowledge base in kaupapa Māori principles and practices. Students can also continue their learning by enrolling into a Diploma in Rongoā – Level 5 course.

  • * A community member receiving treatment from a tauira.

Taratoa had 14 tauira on her course this year and has had about 25 applications to learn in 2021.

“There’s a real thirst to learn about Rongoā out in the community in Rotorua,” says Taratoa.

Anyone interested in studying Rongoā at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Rotorua can contact 0800 355 553 or check our details on our website.

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Published On: 26 November, 2020

Article By: Stephen Ward



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