For David Jones, Rongoā - the study of traditional Māori medicine, is about giving people the knowledge and tools to take power over their health and wellbeing.
As a kaiako (teacher) at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, David hopes to inspire his students to become proactive when it comes to their health and the health of their whānau, hapū and iwi.
“For me, learning rongoā and sharing rongoā is about tino rangatiratanga. We can use Pākehā medicine and our own too. Whether one is better than the other is not important but the fact we have a choice is,” says David.
“I love seeing tauira use rongoā for their whānau, hapū and their iwi. Using it at home or even starting their own practice, their own clinics and running their own courses, workshops and wānanga.”
David found his passion for rongoā whilst working as a librarian at TWoA’s Raroera campus in Hamilton.
As part of his post graduate studies in library services, David came across the traditional Māori medicine practice and then took on the teaching and guidance from a number of tohunga (experts) in rongoā.
“The reasons why I started to do rongoā myself was to help raise the status of rongoā Māori and to show everybody that it is a valid and bona fide medical option.”
David believes that the practice of rongoā isn’t just about physical health and wellbeing but is also a way for both Māori and those learning about te ao Māori to connect with the culture on a deeper level.
“You’re not only learning about rongoā but you’re developing a concrete connection to our culture and our past.”