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September 10, 2018 | by  | in Opinion Te Ao Mārama |
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He Hononga

Papatūānuku is our earth mother here in Aotearoa. Our blood is connected through her whenua. She is our ancestor, she is our mother, she is our goddess. But she is suffering and needs us, her mokopuna, to help her. Not only by recycling, following our moon cycles, and removing plastic, but also by HE HONONGA (CONNECTION).

When Ranginui was separated from Papatūānuku she was in mourning, and succumbed to a constant state of mamae; physically, spiritually and emotionally. Saddened by this, Io-Matua sent down rākau to heal, cover and love Papatūānuku. One of the rākau sent down to her was kawakawa. This kawakawa covered her body with love and grew almost everywhere. Kawakawa also healed the scarring of her earth.

After Papatūānuku separated from Ranginui she suffered from broken bones, sore ligaments and muscles. Io-Matua sent down the rakau, Tūpakihi, which repaired her bones and muscles. Nowadays, like down in Christchurch, Tūpakihi will grow wherever there are big cracks in the whenua to sew Papatūānuku back together.

This whakapapa is very important to understanding Rongoā Māori. This shows us the connection; That we, as people, are one and the same as Papatūānuku. Once we become enlightened by the realisation that she too is a living being, we can begin to connect with her.

Kawakawa, as mentioned above, covered the Earth mother’s skin to heal imperfections. For us humans, it is a natural remedy for common skin problems such as eczema and rashes, even cuts and sores.

Kawakawa also helped Papatūānuku’s heart recover from the painful trauma of separation. For us again, kawakawa can be used to assist the heart in pumping blood around our body. This is why, amazingly enough, kawakawa is shaped like a human heart.

The similarities between ourselves and Papatūānuku are self-evident when you take the time to discover the native rakau of Aotearoa. To use the example mentioned above, Tūpakihi, not only is this rakau infamous for repairing fissures in Papatūānuku, but it can also be used to heal our bones, repair our muscles and even alleviate the symptoms of arthritis.

Rongoā Māori is the native plant medicine of Aotearoa. Once we understand what heals Papatūānuku then we can begin to understand what heals ourselves. But to make this connection we must remain open, and use more than our eyes to see. ‘Rongoā’ literally means the five senses; to see, smell, hear, touch and taste. All you have to do is know the plants and they will teach you; who they are and who you are. Ko au te rongoā ko te rongoā ko au.

If wanting to know more about rongoā check out my Instagram page @awhiorarongoa.

Nā Awhina Henry

Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau a Apanui


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