June 25, 2024

Te Ao Rauropi: Mapping the Biosphere of Rongoā Māori

From left: Tohe Ashby, Donna Kerridge, Ruatau Perez, Robbie Richardson, Jolie Davis and Awhitia Mihaere
Te Ao Rauropi: Mapping the Biosphere of Rongoā Māori
From left: Tohe Ashby, Donna Kerridge, Ruatau Perez, Robbie Richardson, Jolie Davis and Awhitia Mihaere

Te Ao Rauropi: Mapping the Biosphere of Rongoā Māori research team members Dr Amohia Boulton, Donna Kerridge and Gill Potaka-Osborne recently participated in the inaugural ACC Rongoā Māori Conference held in Rotorua. The conference celebrated traditional Māori healing and provided a unique opportunity for collaboration to support positive health outcomes for whānau and hapori Māori (Māori communities) https://rongoamaoriconference.co.nz/. Conference master of ceremonies was Ngahihi o te ra Bidois. Brief conference opening addresses were delivered by the Mayor of Rotorua, Tania Tapsell, ACC Deputy Chief Executive-Māori, Renata Blair and ACC Rongoā Māori Advisory Chair, Awhitia Mihaere. The conference programme included a variety of speakers representing the continuum of Rongoā Māori including funders, policy makers, academics, healers, and service providers. Conference participants came from all over Aotearoa.

Photo: Pā Rōpata

On the first day of the conference, Te Ao Rauropi Advisory Group member, Pā Rōpata (Rob) McGowan QSM presented his whakaaro around the rise of Rongoā Māori. Touching on his early days spent in Whanganui as a young priest, Pā delivered insightful kōrero about what Rongoā Māori means explaining “the foundation of rongoā was not plants, but wairua.”

Conference highlights for the Whakauae team included a presentation by Whakauae researcher and healer, Donna Kerridge entitled Planning a future for Rongoā Māori in the new world. Donna also took part in an advisory group panel discussion on the second day alongside other panel members, Awhitia Mihaere, Jolie Davis, Robbie Richardson, Ruatau Perez and Tohe Ashby. The panel shared their experiences of working with ACC to advance Rongoā Māori practice.

A further highlight for Gill was again meeting Tau Huirama, an Appreciative Inquiry practitioner and healer she had initially met at the recent World Indigenous Cancer Conference in Melbourne. In his presentation, Tau described his Rongoā Maori journey. His presentation Walking with Tuupuna is also the title of his 2019 book which was available for sale at the conference.

On the last day of the conference Dr Amohia Boulton, in her keynote address, examined the intersect between research and Rongoā Māori referencing Te Ao Rauropi research in her discussion. Amohia recognised some of the key people outside the research team who had been critical to the success of Te Ao Rauropi including Ngahina Gardiner, a Whanganui healer and tā moko artist who designed the project logo, and Tom Johnson, Whakauae Design Lead, whose designs played an important part in research dissemination.

During her keynote address, Amohia launched Te Ao Rauropi Biosphere animated graphic. This graphic will soon appear on our Te Ao Rauropi research project website. Those present responded exceptionally well to the graphic with one healer commenting: “[It is] the first time I have seen a model that capture[s] all of what they had been saying about Rongoā Māori in one place.” Following Amohia’s address, hard copies of the animated graphic were distributed in poster form. Copies of the poster were hotly contested with Whakauae receiving multiple requests to make more available for distribution.

Finally, the conference also provided the research team with a chance to reconnect with healers and others they had met during the term of Te Ao Rauropi research project.


Boulton, A. (2024). Te Ao Rauropi: A Biosphere of Rongoā Māori. Keynote Address to the ACC Rongoā Māori Conference, Rotorua, NZ, 22 – 23 May 2024.

Poster Citation:

Whakauae Research Services Ltd (2024).

Te Ao Rauropi Rongoā Māori Biosphere. Whakauae Research Services.

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