Traditional healing and Indigenous wellbeing in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Authored by: Annabel Ahuriri-Driscoll , Amohia Boulton

Routledge Handbook of Indigenous Wellbeing

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  April  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138909175
eBook ISBN: 9781351051262
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores the contribution of rongoā Māori (traditional healing) to Māori wellbeing. Rongoā Māori is a holistic system of healing derived from Māori philosophy and customs. Despite attempts in the early twentieth century to suppress and prohibit rongoā Māori, these traditional healing practices and the underpinning knowledge have endured, albeit in a more limited form perhaps than in the past. Today, rongoā Māori is regarded as a taonga, a treasure, to be safeguarded and protected. However, to achieve this requires the concerted and collaborative efforts of both Māori and the Crown, as partners in the Treaty of Waitangi, the country’s founding document. Drawing on the findings of three studies (The future of Rongoā; Ngā Tohu o te Ora – Traditional Māori healing and wellness outcomes; and Supporting traditional Rongoā practice in contemporary healthcare settings), this chapter traverses the historical and contemporary positioning of rongoā Māori and in doing so, argues that in a contemporary setting there are distinct roles and responsibilities which government, the health sector and tribal authorities (iwi) must play in order to ensure the ongoing vibrancy of the sector. Key principles and actions for adoption by these respective entities are identified, in order that rongoā is sustained as a viable health practice into the future.

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