Natural Herbal Remedies.
With pure plant extracts and essential oils,
Native New Zealanders have been benefiting from the healing properties of Papatuanuku (Mother Nature) for centuries.
Kawakawa, also known as the NZ Pepper Tree, or (Macropiper Excelsum); is a Rongoa Maori (traditional Maori medicine) plant found natively throughout New Zealand. It is closely related to Kava, and much like its tropical cousin, it contains many natural medicinal benefits and is well known for its healing purposes.
Kawakawa was traditionally used by Maori as a remedy for stomach and rheumatic pain, skin disorders, wounds and toothache. The antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties make it useful for treating infections and pain, as well as inflammation of various skin conditions. Kawakawa is also a great insect repellent, the leaves were burned on a fire to keep the insects away from crops, and wreaths of kawakawa were worn by our Kuia (grandmother/elder) as a sign of mourning.
The knowledge of Rongoa is considered sacred to Maori, and traditionally; only practiced by a Tohunga Pu (priest/elder/healer). A few were selected and taught the traditional ways of healing. Students had to have the mental aptitude to retain the vast repertoire of waiata (song/music), karakia (prayer), whakapapa (genealogy) and other traditional/historical stories that prepared them for the role of Tohunga. Maori approach health holistically through physical, mental and spiritual aspects. When an individual becomes unwell, the healing process often involves the entire family.
When collecting Rongoa herbs, there are certain cultural protocols that should be acknowledged. As a sign of respect to Tane Mahuta (protector of nature and its creatures), Papatuanuku (mother earth), our tipuna (our ancestors) and Io (heavenly father), a karakia (prayer) must always be done before entering the ngahere (forest). Thus; to permit us a safe passage in to natures relm and allow us to harvest the Rongoa we need for our healing purposes. Karakia should also be done when you leave the ngahere; not only to thank the plant for its use but to also honour Papatuanuku in all her glory with all her abundance, thus maximizing its healing potential.
In today’s modern world, Rongoa Maori is still being practiced by Maori healers and practitioners. As the generations evolved; so, has the practice of traditional Maori medicine. There are now more females involved in the work of our tipuna; whereas, back in the accessorial times, only men were allowed to practice. We now share our cultural knowledge amongst our whanau, including those of non-Maori cultures to ensure that our traditions are not lost or forgotten to time.
Kawakawa is still commonly used today among Maori and non-Maori cultures. It is a popular treatment for Eczema, Psoriasis, Dermatitis and other skin related issues, whilst others may desire it for beauty and skincare purposes to pamper and nourish their skin.