Heal­ing prop­er­ties of plants re­vealed

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE - GE­OFF VAUSE

The widely used ku¯mara­hou with its strong and var­ied heal­ing prop­er­ties was more preva­lent in the Far North, while pop­u­lar Marl­bor­ough plants in­cluded kawakawa, ko­romiko and whauwhau paku, among many oth­ers.

Many na­tive plants hold heal­ing prop­er­ties, and two Marl­bor­ough women are un­lock­ing their se­crets for an­other gen­er­a­tion.

Lovey Walsh and Pa­tri­cia Hook have es­tab­lished Manaaki Nga­here to teach na­tive plant iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, us­ing their sur­round­ings as the class­room with sea­sonal walks en­com­pass­ing Puketea (Whites Bay), Rarangi and hinemahuta (Ona­ma­lutu).

Walsh said the aim was to pass the knowl­edge on, not only plant iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and their medic­i­nal prop­er­ties, but also how to man­u­fac­ture oils, creams and po­tions for treat­ing var­i­ous con­di­tions.

‘‘Tri­cia and my­self are get­ting older and we may forget things, so we de­cided to teach wha¯nau [and] any­one who is in­ter­ested in na­tive plants,’’ Walsh said.

Walsh and Hook take groups on sev­eral bush walks each year - one for each sea­son - teach­ing how to iden­tify plants. Walsh said they ac­cepted peo­ple no mat­ter what knowl­edge they had al­ready.

‘‘We also do a week­end stay, teach­ing how to use the medic­i­nal prop­er­ties of the plants and how to make the creams and oils for mas­sage and what­ever they would like.

‘‘We’re meet­ing with iwi as well, and will teach their wha¯nau. We think it’s good to teach the younger ones so they can teach their fam­i­lies and so on. Our wha¯nau use them and we want to teach that.’’

Walsh said the medic­i­nal prop­er­ties in the plants could com­ple­ment main­stream med­i­cal treat­ments, adding that the bush re­vealed dif­fer­ent plants with each sea­son. Stu­dents had to do at least three iden­ti­fi­ca­tion walks through the year and a week­end­long stay to be cer­ti­fied. They also need to com­plete each of those stages to qual­ify for the man­u­fac­tur­ing course.

Re­spected tra­di­tional Ma¯ori medicine prac­ti­tioner Rob McGowan, of Tau­ranga, had en­cour­aged the course be­ing es­tab­lished in Marl­bor­ough.

‘‘We con­sider Rob to be our to­hunga,’’ Walsh said.

Plants were of­ten spe­cific to each re­gion, in that they grew well in one place and not in an­other, she said. The widely used ku¯mara­hou with its strong and var­ied heal­ing prop­er­ties was more preva­lent in the Far North, while pop­u­lar Marl­bor­ough plants in­cluded kawakawa, ko­romiko and whauwhau paku, among many oth­ers.

‘‘Ku¯mara­hou grows here but I think it was in­tro­duced from else­where. It is a great en­er­giser, es­pe­cially in the af­ter­noon. I hate the taste but I’ll take it if I need to. Your body will tell you what you need and when,’’ Walsh said.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit the Manaaki Nga­here Face­book page.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Lovey Walsh teach­ing peo­ple how to iden­tify na­tive plants on a Manaaki Nga­here bush walk.

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