New course teaches old knowl­edge

North Harbour News - - OUT & ABOUT - DEBRIN FOX­CROFT

A plant’s heal­ing power is the fo­cus of a new ron­goa¯ Ma¯ ori medicine course in the Waita¯kere Ranges, Auck­land.

The sold-out six-week course is a first for Joanne Hakaraia, who is also co-founder of Sis­ters In­dige­nous, a nat­u­ral prod­uct com­pany fo­cused on pro­mot­ing tra­di­tional medic­i­nal knowl­edge.

‘‘In the old days we used to hold quite tightly to the knowl­edge of the for­est, wor­ried what would hap­pen if large com­pa­nies found out about these nat­u­ral re­sources,’’ said Hakaraia.

How­ever, she said the knowl­edge has al­ready gone global.

‘‘Now it’s about restor­ing the mana of the plants.’’

Hakaraia was part of a grow­ing move­ment to pro­mote ron­goa¯ as a nat­u­ral al­ter­na­tive to west­ern medicine.

The first six-week course, start­ing in late Septem­ber, has al­ready reached ca­pac­ity.

Ron­goa¯ has re­ceived in­creased at­ten­tion af­ter re­search by Dr Gle­nis Mark found ta¯ ngata whenua wanted to have the op­tion of com­pli­men­tary heal­ing.

How­ever, the study found many pa­tients feared ridicule from west­ern med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers if they ad­mit­ted to see­ing both a doc­tor and a tra­di­tional healer. Hakaraia said holis­tic care worked best when ev­ery­one was talk­ing.

‘‘There are peo­ple who are on high lev­els of medicines and are in­ter­ested in go­ing nat­u­ral but it only works if ev­ery­one is open.’’

Hakaraia said her hands-on course would con­nect stu­dents to the spir­i­tual na­ture of the Waita¯ kere Ranges.

There have been calls for ron­goa¯ Ma¯ori to be for­malised within the pub­lic health sys­tem, and the Min­istry of Health re­viewed the prac­tices in 2014.

In the last 10 years, Pri­mary Health Or­gan­i­sa­tions across the coun­try have be­gun to fund ron­goa¯ ser­vices as part of their pub­lic health pro­grammes, with 19 providers cur­rently re­ceiv­ing gov­ern­ment fund­ing. How­ever, some within the west­ern med­i­cal estab­lish­ment re­main skep­ti­cal.

New Zealand Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Les­ley Clarke said that while ron­goa¯ was not an area of spe­cific fo­cus, the or­gan­i­sa­tion put it in the same cat­e­gory as other com­ple­men­tary medicines.

‘‘It is our view that it is in the con­sumer or pa­tient’s best in­ter­ests that there is cred­i­ble ev­i­dence of ef­fec­tive­ness and safety of any prod­uct where a health ben­e­fit is claimed.’’

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