What is a Māori medicine plant?
Māori have used plants, trees, ferns for medicines for a very long time. The forest was and is the chemist shop for us. I will be working my way through different rongoa for you to learn about and you could teach the children about these too. Rongoa is Māori herbal medicines in this context.
Where do you find the plants?
The plants must be sources from the bush not just from the side of the road as those are contaminated from toxins from car fumes, rubbish etc. You will have to find out where your native bush is and if it is on private land you will have to get permission to access it. There are many places in New Zealand where you can access these plants from.
Identification of plants.
To help you with the identification of plants you will need to learn about them. One of the handy books that I have and use is the book From Weta To Kauri: A Guide To The Nz Forest. This book will help you to identify plants, ferns, trees and native insects and birds in New Zealand forests. I highly recommend getting a hold of this resource for yourself and for your classroom.
Kumarahou,Papapa, Poverty weed, Golden Tainui, Gumdiggers’ soap
This beautiful shrub is blooming with flowers at this time of the year (Spring). They are a fluffy yellow flower.
This plant can be found in the North Island forest edges. It loves the rich red soils and grows well under other natives.
The leaves are steeped in water is well known for relieving chest complaints, asthma and colds. Especially good for bronchitis. The Māori people used it for Tuberculosis or TB too.
The plant is also used to cure skin diseases and kidney complaints. It was used in a steam bath to help those suffering.
It got the name ‘Gumdiggers soap’ as when the flowers are crushed they make a soapy lather in your hands. And the gumdiggers must have used this. A very versatile plant. I like to make tea with this and drink it to relieve chest complaints.
Another handy book that will help you on your journey with Māori Rongoa is this book Te Rongoa Maori Medicine. A must have for anyone learning about Māori medicines and their uses.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You must remember that some plants are poisonous to ingest so you must follow the directions on the label of all medicines. Do not ingest if you are not sure.