Rongoā Māori (traditional Māori healing) through the eyes of Māori healers : sharing the healing while keeping the tapu : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
This research explores the underlying philosophies of rongoa Maori, the
traditional healing system of the indigenous Maori of Aotearoa/New
Zealand. The research is set within the context of worldwide traditional
healing systems that involves discussion of the embedded nature of
indigenous cultural values and beliefs within traditional healing practices.
Parallels are drawn between the traditional healing practices of Maori and
other indigenous healing traditions.
The research was conducted in adherence to the principles of Kaupapa
Maori research to ensure the use of Maori cultural values throughout the
research process. Narrative interviews were conducted with seventeen
Maori healers about their understandings of rongoa Maori. Data analysis
was conducted in a three-step process using an approach created
specifically for the research entitled the rourou Maori method of analysis.
The analysis was inclusive of the contributions of each individual healer
and the researcher to the collective story on rongoa Maori across all
participants in the research.
The analysis revealed nine underlying philosophies of rongoa Maori. These
showed that rongoa Maori: healing is a continuous process of life; is a coconstruction
of healing through the healer/client relationship; includes
collaborative whakawhanaungatanga (family-like) relationships in healing;
involves the synergy of the alliance between people and plants; utilises the
tipuna (ancestors) as the wairua (spirits) that conduct the healing; focuses
on diagnosing illness through past generations; identifies the power of
emotions to create or destroy health, illness and healing; aims to facilitate
change for the client; and aspires to heal Maori of colonisation and keep
Maori knowledge sovereign.
In this research, Maori healers indicated that aspects of Maori knowledge
and wisdom have been purposely kept tapu (sacred). However, there are
three major contributions to knowledge about traditional healing systems.
First, new insights were presented on rongoa Maori, such as the
relationship between healers and plants. Second, the contribution of
rongoa Maori to the greater advancement of Maori tino rangatiratanga
was discussed. Third, additional conceptualisations about traditional
healing systems, such as aroha (love) in the relationship between the
healer and client, were found. Rongoa Maori was shown to share several
healing concepts with other traditional healing systems.