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Medicinal Native Plants of New Zealand

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  • Medicinal Native Plants of New Zealand

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    Maori Rongoa

    Medicinal Native Plants of New Zealand

  • Medicinal Native Plants of New Zealand

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  • Medicinal Native Plants of New Zealand

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    ContentsTraditional Maori Healing ....................................................5The Impact of Colonisation ..................................................6Current Rongoa Maori ..........................................................8Harakeke .............................................................................10Hoiheri ................................................................................14Huika ..................................................................................16Kahikatea ............................................................................18Kanuka ................................................................................20Karamu ...............................................................................24Kareao .................................................................................28Kawakawa...........................................................................30Kohekohe ............................................................................34Kohia ..................................................................................36Kohukohu ...........................................................................38Kopakopa ............................................................................40Koromiko ............................................................................42Kowhai................................................................................44Kumarahou .........................................................................48Mamuku ..............................................................................50Manuka ...............................................................................54Matai ...................................................................................58Miro ....................................................................................60Papapa .................................................................................62Parakipere ...........................................................................64Paretao ................................................................................66Patete ..................................................................................68Piupiu ..................................................................................70Pohutakawa .........................................................................72Ponga ..................................................................................74Pukatea................................................................................76

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    Puriri ...................................................................................78Rahurahu .............................................................................80Rata .....................................................................................84Rengarenga .........................................................................86Rimu ...................................................................................88St Johns Wort ......................................................................90Taramoa ..............................................................................92Tawapou..............................................................................94Tikumu................................................................................96Titoki...................................................................................98Toetoe ...............................................................................100Totara ................................................................................102Towai ................................................................................104Tutu ...................................................................................106

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    Traditional Maori HealingIn traditional times before the colonisation of New

    Zealand, Maori saw science and religion as the same entityand believed that illnesses were caused by supernaturalsources. Maori had a good concept of anatomy, physiologyand the use of plants for healing, however there was anundefined distinction between the mind and body.

    The tohunga was the traditional Maori healer andthought of as a priestly expert and a professional in aparticular field of human endeavor such as art, agriculture,warfare, fishing and healing. Tohunga were essential intraditional Maori society because of the importance ofreligion in their everyday life. They were trained in the wharewananga (house of learning) and only the most intelligentstudents were chosen to become tohunga. Tohunga wereperceived as the mediator between spirits so were importantin healing the sick. Tohunga would use spiritual healing andherbal medicines and saw no distinction between the twomethods. They believed that the use of one was not effectivewithout the other as they were both parts of a completetreatment.

    Maori believed an evil spirit or a type of witchcraftwould attack an individual to cause ill-health as a punishmentfor breaking the tapu (sacred restriction) of the family thatthe spirit belonged to. This type of illness was called mateatua (disease of the gods) since there was no obviousphysical cause. The individual would experience pain,weakness, loss of appetite, malaise, fever and occasionallydelirium due to possession of the spirit.

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    The tohunga would investigate the cause of sickness bytaking a history of the patients activities before becoming illor by analyzing their dreams or the dreams of the patientsfamily to obtain a diagnosis. Spiritual healing using karakia(incantations) for particular illnesses were performed with orwithout the use of herbs. If the cause of illness was found tobe due to the patient breaking another familys tapu, thetohunga and the head of the patients family would addressthe spirit and the head of their family. An apology wouldfollow so that the spirit would leave and the patient wouldrecover. Maori also believed that there were illnesses thatwere caused by makutu (witchcraft) that would result in thedeath of the patient unless the tohunga could return the spellonto the person responsible for casting it. This would thencause the death of the sorcerer and the recovery of thepatient.

    Herbal medicines, minor surgery or mirimiri (massage)were used to treat illnesses that were obviously due tophysical causes. This type of treatment was limited becauseof the belief that illness was of spiritual origin.

    The Impact of ColonisationThe arrival of the European settlers to New Zealand

    had a huge impact on the health of the Maori people. Theintroduction of new weapons (for example, the musket) andespecially infectious diseases saw the decrease of the Maoripopulation to a level where it was thought that the Maorirace would become extinct. New Zealands isolation meantthat the Maori people to lacked immunity to bacterial andviral infections that were common in other countries.

    Tohunga found their methods hopeless against thesenew diseases and found that the Maori people began to loseconfidence with the introduction of Western medicine and

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    Christianity. With the introduction of internal medicines,Maori began to develop their own knowledge about herbalremedies and experiment with native plants. Theeffectiveness (although still ineffective at this stage ofdevelopment) and popularity of the missionaries medicinesassisted in the conversion of Maori to Christianity. Itappeared to the Maori that the Christian god had superiorpowers and this attributed to the health and prosperity of theEuropeans. The fundamentals of Maori society, culture,religion and medicine became strained as religion wasinvolved in their everyday lives and many of their beliefswere based upon it. The tohunga began to lose his mana(power, authority and prestige) due to the shift of religionand the spread of Western knowledge undermining thetohungas authority The downfall of the whare wananga(school of learning) was also due to conflict between Maorireligion and Christianity.

    The Maori people never fully lost faith in their ownhealers and did not fully accept Western medicine due topoor access to medical facilities and the cost of travel andservices. Western medicine was also not very effective at thetime. Many Maori would still turn to their local tohunga formedical treatment.

    The Tohunga Supression Act was passed in 1907 due toconcern that was being raised over the practice and safety ofsome tohunga. After the collapse of the traditional tohunga,another type of healer took advantage of the vulnerableposition the Maori people were faced with. These healerswere considered by many to be motivated by greed and wereseen as a threat to both Maori and Pakeha. Maori healingwas also seen as dangerous by Western modern medicineas it was not scientifically proven. The Tohunga SuppressionAct was repealed in 1962 however this had little significanceas some tohunga had practiced throughout the 20th centuryespecially in remote rural areas of the country.

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    Current Rongoa MaoriThe traditional beliefs of Maori healing and healthcare

    have become increasingly popular over the last 20 years andtraditional healing techniques are being incorporated i