Far North rongoā practitioner welcomes resurgence of traditional Māori healing practice

Far North rongoā practitioner Jolie Davis at work. Davis attended the recent Rongoā Māori Conference in Rotorua. Photo / Supplied / NZME

This article was first published by NZME.

A Far North rongoā practitioner has welcomed the resurgence of the traditional Māori healing practice after the country’s first Rongoā Māori Conference.

Jolie Davis (Ngāti Kuri, Te Rarawa) says it was a special experience being part of the inaugural Rongoā Māori Conference last month in Rotorua.

The two-day conference supported by ACC brought together more than 450 rongoā Māori practitioners and health providers within te ao rongoā (the rongoā community) to whakawhanaunga (build relationships) and grow understanding of traditional Māori healing and its place in Aotearoa’s health sector.

“It was really exciting to bring everyone in the rongoā community and health providers together, which we have never done before,” Davis said.

“It was a good opportunity to share, learn and see how we can work together to meet all the needs of our communities. We hope this conference will help grow the understanding and awareness of the benefits of rongoā Māori and traditional healing.”

Davis is a rongoā Māori practitioner from the Far North who is now based in Wellington and manages Manawa Ora. She says there has been a resurgence of traditional Māori healing.

“Rongoā Māori seeks to restore balance and find the cause of disease and unwellness. Currently in Aotearoa, rongoā Māori is experiencing a massive revitalisation of our traditional practices. We’re really happy about that as more and more people want to know more about rongoā Māori and access rongoā Māori.”

Since June 2020, ACC has been offering rongoā Māori as an option for people in their recovery and has delivered rongoā in more than 10,000 claims.

There are now 200 practitioners registered with ACC from the Far North down to Stewart Island. There are 24 organisations/ practitioners in Northland registered with ACC to provide rongoā Māori services.

From June 2020 to March 2024, ACC has supported access to rongoā Māori services for 658 kiritaki in the Northland region.

Far North rongoā practitioner Jolie Davis. Photo / Supplied / NZME

Davis said the support of ACC has been a big part of the resurgence.

“People coming through our doors have probably quadrupled in the past three years. ACC has done a lot of work to normalise rongoā Māori in our communities. Over the past four years ACC has funded more than 77,000 rongoā Māori sessions and claims have doubled for people requesting access to rongoā Māori.

“So, there is significant demand out there in our communities and ACC has been instrumental in creating access for our communities and whānau.”

Davis is also a member of the ACC expert advisory panel for rongoā Māori and said her passion came from growing up in a community where it was part of her local environment.

“In my community in Ahipara, we had access to rongoā Māori not just for illness or injury, but as a part of maintaining our wellbeing. I grew up with the understanding that it was normal in terms of hauora [health] and healthcare. It wasn’t until I moved away from my tūrangawaewae (place of belonging) that I realised that it wasn’t normal to others.”

ACC research shows Māori are more likely to experience a serious injury than non-Māori. However, overall Māori are 35 per cent less likely to make an ACC claim. ACC data shows rongoā Māori claim volumes have doubled in the 12 months to March 2024, with 5054 additional claims using rongoā.

ACC data shows that it is not just Māori who are accessing rongoā Māori services, with 59 per cent of clients accessing rongoā Māori being Māori, while 41 per cent are non-Māori.

Article by NZME.