Taonga pūoro used as healing regime

By Regan Paranihi

Shelley Emia was brought up under the wing of her Aboriginal grandmother where she developed a passion for music.

At the age of 30, she retraced her steps back to Ngāti Kahungunu where she was introduced to taonga pūoro and now it's a regime she uses to heal whānau in Australia.

This is a form of medicine that was gifted to her by her Aunty.

Emia says, "She had these taonga on her bed and she said I want you to choose one - they were three clay kōauau and it's something that I had quietly inside myself to start connecting to."

It was also something that helped reconnect her to her Māori world.

"It has been a path of self-discovery a path of reclamation. I'm a Ngāti Kahungunu woman from Aotearoa. Both my mother and father are Māori but I was raised in Australia since I was six years old with my Aboriginal kuia."

"Being raised in Australia it has previously been a little daunting to go up into my Māori whānau to play my taonga pūoro I don't know a lot, just know the feeling and I know that it's helped me in my own journey, she says.

While the suicide rates continue to grow within Māori communities, Emia says taonga pūoro could be a healing regime that could help.

"I think it comes back to a place of nature and using your breath, your aroha - your intentions for that person's best interest. It's a struggle these days with suicide."

She also says it's needed in today's society, "There's a need for taonga pŪoro and the frequency to heal our people but not just our people, I've been playing to all people indigenous people, western people it's just needed for people in general."

Emia uses her skills to help local communities here in Australia.

"I've been asked to go into whare recently this year to clear spaces in preparation for tūpāpaku to come through into the house to support the whānau through their grief and then to come and clear the whare afterwards as well and I use my taonga to do that."

Emia will be starting her own mana wahine retreats in April.