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

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Massey University
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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.
Maori, Medicine, Traditional medicine, Healing, Healers, New Zealand, Rongoā, Hauora