On a beautiful sunny morning in March, we officially welcomed our Te Hiku ō Te Ika Rongoā Māori practitioners into the fold of Kaitaia Hospital to deliver their traditional Rongoā Māori services. This is one of three recently funded Rongoā Māori pilot programmes across Te Tai Tokerau.
The second pilot will offer these Rongoā services at Rawene Hospital and the third through clinics in Haruru, Motatau, Otangarei and Kaiwaka.
In 2018/19, Northland DHB, former Māori Health general manager Harold Wereta, undertook a number of consultation hui with whānau throughout the rohe. The key question asked was, “How do you see whānau in the future”.
The vision from the hui became clear - for whānau to be happy, to be healthy, and to be heard.
The impetus to establish a funded Rongoā Māori service came from an overwhelming call from whānau and the community. While Rongoā Māori is not new, and in fact, a well-practised and well-used kaupapa, having it as an integral, funded health service pathway is new.
“Access to Rongoā and tohunga were key planks in Māori society pre-European. However, post-European settlement saw the dismantling and outlawing of tohunga and rongoā kaupapa. For us in Northland, returning to those things that were and are important not only to our wellbeing but also to our identity is fantastic. It’s been a privilege to be part of a kaupapa that has seen the Northland DHB structure hear and respond to the voices of whānau Māori, hapū and iwi in Te Tai Tokerau,” said Marty Rogers, acting general manager of Māori Health.
The Northland DHB partnered with the Rongoā community to co-design the kaupapa across Te Tai Tokerau. Membership of this Rongoā Project group comprised of Taumata Rongoā, who governed and set the vision for the practice, the Ringawhakahaere team who worked hard to make that vision a reality, and Northland DHB and an independent project manager who built the framework for service provision.
The traditional practice of Rongoā Māori encompasses a holistic view of health and wellbeing, incorporating physical, spiritual, psychological and family aspects. The practice is uniquely designed to suit the individual and whānau who come through the doors.
“This is a preventative care plan in our natural environment. We want to see whānau have a choice in how they are treated. We want to see whānau owning their wellness plans, and we want to be walking alongside them to tautoko and awhi their journey,” said Teresa Hart, Ringa Whakahaere.
Rongoā Māori services under the Te Hiku pilot in the Kaitaia hospital will operate from ‘Te Waka Hauora’ every Wednesday and are available to all. Nau mai haere mai whānau!