He’s faced more challenges than most people will ever have to but a belief in rongoā Māori means Jordon Wansbrough is living a productive life and helping others lead better and healthier lives.
Jordon was born with a host of medical conditions, including cerebral palsy, Tetralogy of Fallot, ADHD, chronic back and leg pain and right-side hemiparesis. For much of his life he was in a wheelchair and in 2016 he went into a coma which many people did not expect him to recover from.
After recovering from his coma, Jordon decided to forgo his usual medications and put his faith in rongoā Māori.
Today he walks unaided and credits much of the improvement in his health to rongoā.
“I'm no longer on any medication at all, I just take my natural medicine and that has worked for me,” he says.
Jordon spent three years learning rongoā from Wellington practitioner Ema Weepu but after moving back home to Taranaki last year realised he needed rongoā qualifications to work as a practitioner.
To achieve that, he’s enrolled on the Level 4 Certificate in Rongoā at the Ngāmotu campus of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
While the course teaches students the customs and protocols of rongoā, practising or instructing rongoā requires further study. Jordon says the course is an ideal introduction to the world of rongoā.
“I’d say if you don’t know much about rongoā this would be the perfect choice for someone,” he says.
“Basically for someone that’s learning about rongoā this is perfect but for someone that would want to take this on as a practitioner, they would definitely need to keep going, because this is just the baseline.”
“It teaches you not just about rongoā, it teaches you about kaitiakitanga, it teaches you about te ao Māori and how te ao Māori works and how rongoā plays a big part.”
He says learning rongoā produces huge benefits.
“Our kuia and koro are taking millions of medications when they could be on natural medicines that’s outside in their garden, and drop all those medications, with the understanding that medication and rongoā work hand in hand, so you’ve got to be careful.”
He aims to be qualified to help and teach others in the Waitara community about the benefits of rongoā.
“I needed a certificate because what I’ve been taught has been genealogy-taught, so passed down generations, it’s taonga tuku iho, but in a Pākehā sense I needed that certificate to say that I’m a rongā practitioner.”
Jordon says rongoā has a way of finding the right people to practice the ancient skills.
“What you find it a lot in the rongoā field is that you start off with 40 students and at the end of the year there’s only 12 because the rongoā will find the people that are meant for this mahi.”