Te Waka Rākau was formed in 2016 to bring wāhine and their whanau together to share their stories through the traditional practice of Rongoā Māori. Their stories are shared through the rongoā they create and the mirimiri they provide.
The products that we make and the knowledge that we share about rongoā is passed down through whakapapa. When you hold a product of ours in your hand, we want you to know where it came from, what's in it and how it came about.
We have been working with rongoā for most of our lives. The recipes we use have been handed down through the ages and we have kept our kaupapa very simple. We only use native plants grown in abundance on our whenua (land).
Our products are hand produced by our local collective who have a passion for rākau. We do everything from local harvesting to manufacture through to the mirimiri we provide in our clinic. We are healers. Our range of recipes are created to support the work that we do with customers. We have mirimiri (massage) balms that are for specific uses as well as a range for all over body massage.
In 2020 we became a registered charitable organisation operating as a not-for-profit business.
Over the past 4 years, our initiatives have evolved and our rongoā community has grown. We deliver year long rongoā wānanga and events that include; self-reflection, plant identification, stream restoration, seed collecting, nursery management, rongoā māori services and more. Punaora Clinic developed from the delivery of Punaora Rongoā wānanga. The students were learning from each other providing mirimiri and rongoā, very soon friends and whanau were coming in. The clinic is based in Otaki.
Our story begins here...
Our story really begins with my great-great-great-great grandfather Rawiri Te Wanui. He was born under Maungatautiri and came to live in Otaki in the early 1800's. He was the minister of Rangiatea Church in Otaki and was taken under the wing of Hadfield before he was ordained deacon in 1872. I often ponder on his connection to the ministry and his devotion in helping his people. I also reflect on the journey he took to arrive in Otaki and make it his home.
Rawiri Te Wanui
His granddaughters, Mereruia and Heneti spent considerable time on Kāpiti Island cultivating land . They became very adept at preparing rongoā or traditional medicines from plants. What I have experienced on Kapiti Island is the abundance of kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile) and kawakawa (Piper excelsum) that grows there. They would have learned all ways and methods on how to use these plants for healing. In particular, I have a strong connection to kohekohe because of its rongoā for the whare tangata. I often korero with these kui when I am in the ngahere.