More calls for rongoā Māori and healing practices as treatment options

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Award-winning author and wairua practitioner Wiremu Niania says it's time for rongoā Māori and Māori healing practices to be recognised alongside western practice in our healthcare system. 

Niania says rongoā Māori is the best option for natural healing.

“Our rongoā is natural, there's no chemicals involved,” he says.

“I believe that it's time.  It is our right as tangata whenua to have our rongoā recognised, the mahi that we do recognised, being tangata whenua.”

Niania says he is the first paid tohunga contracted with Te Tairawhiti District Health Board.  He's calling on the government to give more funding for Māori traditional medicine and tohunga.

“It's their lack of funding...because it's not a priority for them.  A lot of the stuff that they do fund for what they do is stuff given out by PHARMAC, where they should be starting to fund some of the rongoā clinics, some of the rongoā that people want to get hold of- and fund more training for people like me.”

In 2015, cancer survivor Tania Filia turned to Māori rongoā when she was told she only had two months to live.

Now she shares her journey of healing in a short film called He Oranga Pumau and has petitioned the government to make rongoā Māori a treatment option.

“The government needs to give more funding in order for people to be able to research our rongoā and they need to follow it- some sort of research group or some monitoring group.  If somebody starts with mate pukupuku or cancer, then follow it from day one to whatever happens.”

Filia is pushing for a formal Waitangi Tribunal inquiry into rongoā Maori legislation in the health system.

This is expected to get underway next year.