Rongoā practitioners concerned new bill will regulate their work

By Muriwai Hei

Rongoa Māori practitioners are concerned their voices haven't been heard in discussions about the Therapeutic Products Bill due to be introduced to Parliament this year.

A petition has been presented to Parliament opposing the bill, which will regulate the delivery of pharmaceutical and natural health products, The bill has been described as overreaching by Rongoā Māori specialists. 

“Given we already have our own tikanga and kawa, it's for more practitioners than Māori. And so under that is our tino rangatiratanga given we already have our own tikanga and kawa," Aotearoa Rongoā Māori Charitable Trust secretary Robyn Richardson said. 

More than 30 Māori health services are supported by the Ministry of Health. But the bill aims to ensure "Māori medicine" from massage to wananga for mental wellbeing are safe products and deliver what they promise.

“We haven't really been monitored and regulated and assessed in our mahi since ages ago. We've had that ability to do as our ancestors have shown us and taught us to do so."


This Māori health provider says the bill is breaking into traditional culture and they are concerned it may restrict their ability to provide medicine to families.

“I really think that it will cripple us if we have to adhere to policies that are made for us on our behalf without consulting us," trust chair Charlotte Mildon said. 

Today Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, asked about the bill, said: “One of the issues we try to ensure is just that for practitioners in these fields that we ensure that there is knowledge, consent and safety on all sides and that's what many of these kinds of regulatory frameworks are all about, to ensure safety for the practitioner but also the consumer.”