Flower power

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - LANDSCAPING - PAULA HULBURT

For decades they have been used in tra­di­tional Maori medicine and now a new gen­er­a­tion is learn­ing about the nat­u­ral power of plants.

Chil­dren at May­field Kinder­garten, in Blen­heim, have been learn­ing about the value of her­bal medicine made from plants in­clud­ing flax, manuka and kowhai.

The move high­lights the kinder­garten’s com­mit­ment to En­vi­roschools, a school pro­gramme that teaches chil­dren to love, care for and re­spect the en­vi­ron­ment.

Teacher Kathryn Richards says the chil­dren re­ally en­joy get­ting a chance to do some ‘‘hands on’’ work.

Ron­goa is tra­di­tional Maori medicine. It in­cludes her­bal medicine made from plants, phys­i­cal tech­niques, spir­i­tual heal­ing and mas­sage.

The grand­mother of one of the chil­dren at the May­field kindy vis­ited the cen­tre last month to share her knowl­edge of the cus­tom.

‘‘At May­field Kinder­garten, ta­mariki and ka­iako re­ally value whanau com­ing in to share their spe­cial skills and knowl­edge,’’ Kathryn says.

‘‘The ta­mariki had a visit from a very spe­cial per­son when Nani Heather spent time shar­ing her knowl­edge of Maori medicine with the chil­dren.

‘‘With Nani Heather’s guid­ance, the chil­dren col­lected manuka leaves and flow­ers from the kinder­garten’s own gar­den, and learnt how to soak them to re­move the manuka oil.

‘‘They loved the chance to spend time learn­ing with Nani Heather, and to ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing new from the world of Te Ao Maori.’’

Manuka is tra­di­tion­ally used in a tea made from leaves and drunk to help re­duce a fever.

Flax leaves or roots are made into pulp, heated and put on skin in­fec­tions such as boils while the hard part of the leaf is used to splint broken bones.

Kathryn says En­vi­roschools is a great way to help give the chil­dren a good idea of the en­vi­ron­ment they live in.

‘‘They love it and it gives them a good foun­da­tion to build on when they move up to school,’’ she says.

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