Natural remedies and treatments have a long history in New Zealand. Māori had extensive knowledge of natural remedies for common ailments and for boosting health, and rongoā Māori knowledge incorporated plants like mānuka to ease cold and flu symptoms or to soothe scalds and burns. Koromiko was used to treat diarrhoea, and kawakawa was used to relieve aches and pains. When European settlers arrived in greater numbers, they also brought new diseases with them, which tohunga (experts in health and other societal functions) were unable to treat using traditional remedies. These changes saw a decline in the use of natural herbal remedies in the 20th Century, but this knowledge was not lost.
Rongoā has re-emerged alongside European modes of healthcare, using wai rākau (plant based healing) and spiritual elements to provide a different path to wellness. Some makers of natural remedies have been inspired by rongoā Māori, using New Zealand’s natural resources to treat health issues without the use of pharmaceutical drugs. In this gel, made in New Plymouth by Natshiral Herbals, mānuka extract is used along with other herbal essences and mānuka honey to create a soothing balm for burns and chafing. This draws on knowledge well known to Māori that mānuka’s soothing properties makes it ideal for this purpose.
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