Matariki and Healing
Posted On 17 April 2023
Matariki and Healing: The Use of Rongoā in Celebrations
Matariki is a significant cultural celebration in New Zealand that marks the beginning of the Māori New Year. It is a time for reflection, remembrance, and renewal, and rongoā plays an important role in this celebration. Rongoā is a traditional form of Māori medicine that uses native plants and other natural materials for healing. In this paper, we will explore the history of rongoā, its role in Matariki celebrations, commonly used rongoā plants, rongoā practitioners, benefits of rongoā, challenges faced by rongoā practitioners, incorporating rongoā into education, and cultural sensitivity and appropriation.
History of Rongoā:
Rongoā has been an integral part of Māori culture for centuries, and its use has been passed down through generations. It is a holistic form of medicine that focuses on the physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of the individual. Rongoā practitioners have a deep understanding of the natural environment and use this knowledge to identify and harvest plants with medicinal properties.
The Role of Rongoā in Matariki Celebrations:
Rongoā is used in Matariki celebrations to heal the body, mind, and spirit. During this time, rongoā practitioners prepare and administer various remedies using native plants such as kawakawa, harakeke, and mamaku. These remedies are used to cleanse and purify the body, promote emotional wellbeing, and connect individuals to their spiritual selves.
There are many native plants used in rongoā, each with its unique medicinal properties. Kawakawa, for example, is used to treat a variety of ailments such as skin disorders, respiratory problems, and digestive issues. Harakeke is used for its antibacterial properties and is also used to soothe skin irritations. Mamaku is used to promote healthy digestion and is also used for its antifungal properties.
Rongoā practitioners are highly respected members of the Māori community who have received training and certification in the use of traditional medicine. They have a deep understanding of the natural environment, the properties of native plants, and the art of healing. Rongoā practitioners are an important part of Matariki celebrations and play a crucial role in ensuring the spiritual and physical wellbeing of the community.
Benefits of Rongoā:
Rongoā offers a holistic approach to healing that focuses on the whole person, not just the physical symptoms. It can be used to treat a variety of ailments and has been found to be effective in promoting emotional wellbeing and reducing stress. Compared to Western medicine, rongoā is often less invasive and has fewer side effects. It can also be used in conjunction with Western medicine to provide a more comprehensive approach to healing.
Challenges Faced by Rongoā Practitioners:
Rongoā practitioners in New Zealand face a number of challenges, including the lack of recognition and support from mainstream healthcare systems, limited funding for research and education, and the risk of cultural appropriation. These challenges can impact the use of rongoā in Matariki celebrations and the wider community.
Incorporating Rongoā into Education:
There is growing recognition of the benefits of incorporating rongoā into education, particularly in New Zealand schools. By teaching students about rongoā and its cultural significance, we can help to promote cultural understanding and respect. There are currently efforts underway to incorporate rongoā into the New Zealand school curriculum, but more needs to be done to ensure that this knowledge is accessible to all students.
Cultural Sensitivity and Appropriation:
It is important to approach the use of rongoā with cultural sensitivity and respect to avoid the risk of cultural appropriation. This includes acknowledging the cultural significance of rongoā, and recognizing that it is a traditional practice that has been passed down through generations in Māori culture.
One way to ensure cultural sensitivity is to work closely with local Māori communities and rongoā practitioners to understand and honor the cultural significance of rongoā. It is also important to obtain permission and guidance from the appropriate authorities and individuals before incorporating rongoā into educational programs.
Cultural appropriation, which occurs when a culture’s traditions or practices are used without proper understanding or respect, can be harmful and offensive to the culture being appropriated. To avoid this, it is important to educate oneself on the history and significance of rongoā and to approach its use with a deep respect for Māori culture and traditions.
Incorporating rongoā into education can be a powerful way to honor and celebrate Matariki, while also providing valuable knowledge and skills to students. However, it must be done with cultural sensitivity and respect to avoid the risk of cultural appropriation and to honor the traditions and knowledge of the Māori people.
Rongoā has played an important role in Māori culture for centuries and continues to be an integral part of Matariki celebrations. The use of rongoā in celebrations and education provides an opportunity to honor and celebrate Māori traditions and knowledge, while also promoting cultural understanding and sensitivity.
It is important to approach the use of rongoā with respect and cultural sensitivity to avoid the risk of cultural appropriation and to honor the traditions and knowledge of the Māori people. By incorporating rongoā into education, we can provide valuable knowledge and skills to students while also promoting cultural understanding and appreciation. With proper guidance and respect, the use of rongoā in Matariki celebrations and education can serve as a powerful way to honor the past, celebrate the present, and build a better future.