As part of the DHB funded Rongoā Māori pilot services, Bay of Islands Hospital now has a dedicated clinic space for traditional Rongoā healing.
Following feedback from whānau across Te Tai Tokerau, Northland DHB worked together with the Rongoā community to co-design the delivery of Rongoā Maori as an integral health service.
This resulted in Northland DHB funding three Rongoā Māori pilot programmes with one clinic in Kaitaia Hospital, Hokianga Health and Bay of Islands Hospital.
Te Roopu Hohou te Rongoā delivers the contract for the Mid-Northern region, providing services from Motatau, Haruru, Otangarei, and Kaiwaka.
Local Tohunga Rongoā and practitioner Tohe Ashby explained that Rongoā Māori specialises in person-specific intervention.
“Just as every person is unique, so too are their health needs. Rongoā is not one size fits all. We always seek to understand what the need is, and from there, we apply the appropriate lens,” said Tohe.
Tohe was raised by his grandparents in Motatau. Growing up, his grandmother was the Rongoā practitioner for the community, and his job was to pick the plants.
“Rongoā isn’t new. It’s always been here. I grew up learning that Rongoā wasn’t just the interventions we use when we’re unwell, but the continual practices that keep you well,” shared Tohe.
Tohe acknowledged that a lack of connection was a key indicator of poor health.
‘’Rongoā Maori isn’t one or two things like mirimiri or pani but an overall way of life that once was and that we need to normalise again.
“We have lost our connection to each other, to the whenua, to the moana, and our atua. Wellness is about reconnection, and Rongoā is part of that process,” Tohe said.
“We are thrilled to support the opening of the Rongoā Māori clinic in the Bay of Islands Hospital,” said Dr Moana Tane, general manager of Māori Health Te Poutokomanawa.
“There was a strong cry for access to Rongoā Māori services from whānau. We listened, and we have been working hard with our Rongoā practitioners to establish a funded model of care that is now available to the local community, within their hospital,” said Moana.
The Rongoā clinics provide traditional healing services which can be accessed in parallel to western medicine.
Bay of Islands Hospital operations manager, Jen Thomas was keen to see Rongoā services available in the hospital and jumped at the opportunity to make it happen.
“Our Takawaenga approached me and said that Tohe Ashby was keen to provide Rongoā and Mirimiri as part of a wraparound service at Bay of Islands Hospital Hospital.
“I was interested as I knew the service was available within other rural hospitals and was aware of the benefits to our patients who already used traditional medicine as part of their journey to wellbeing and wellness. So we set up an initial meeting, and I agreed on the spot after meeting the team.”
Jen shared that despite the space constraints, having easy access to the service within the hospital will provide health benefits to the community.
“Health is not just doctors prescribing medication – it is much more than that. Both services align as they are maintaining wellness and wellbeing,” said Jen.
As part of the Bay of Islands Hospital Rongoā service, the practitioners will be available to visit patients in wards.
The services offered in the Bay of Islands Rongoā clinic include karakia, wairua healing, whitiwhiti kōrero, mirimiri, romiromi, waireka, wairakau and panipani.
This new Rongoā clinic is based in the Community Health Building off Hospital Road, Kawakawa, every Friday from 9 – 4 pm.
Appointments are required and can be made through the dedicated Rongoā clinic phone line via call or text - 021 0283 5818. In addition to this, out of clinic hours’ appointments are available at any of the four centres via the same contact.