Introduction

In keeping with the theme, get involved and who knows, Friday, 18 September 2009 marked the last day of this year’s Conservation Week activities on the East Coast. A pilot initiative to establish a traditional Maori medicine (rongoa) garden took place at Pokai Marae, Tikapa, Ruatoria.

Date:  23 September 2009

In keeping with the theme, get involved and who knows, Friday, 18 September 2009 marked the last day of this year’s DOC (Department of Conservation) Conservation Week activities on the East Coast. A pilot initiative to establish a traditional maori medicine (rongoa) garden took place at Pokai Marae, Tikapa, Ruatoria.

This year we piloted a new initiative for DOC events in the Gisborne region with DOC sponsoring a planting day to establish a traditional maori medicine garden. Awhina White, Programme Manager (Community Relations) said DOC is committed to working with communities to increase New Zealander’s understanding and appreciation of natural resources and this event is one that has done just that, but also emphasises the traditional links between the people and the land.

On a sunny Friday morning, whanau from Pokai Marare, school children from Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Waiu, neighbours and DOC staff gathered at Pokai Marae looking out over the mouth of the Waiapu River, keen and excited to be involved in an event that will in time become a very valuable resource for the future generations of the Pokai Marae whanau.

The day saw the planting of over 100 traditionally utilised tree and plant species ranging from Koromiko and Kahikatea to Mamaku and Makomako. The traditional uses of these trees and plants have multiple uses including burns, rheumatism, stomach pains and colds. “The day is always made worthwhile when you have a good turn out of people, especially our young people who enjoy the day. A big part of our work in this area is about getting young people involved with practical conservation work. We try to give them an understanding of how unique our native species are and how important it is for all of us to care for them. It can be small manageable tasks that are actually good fun and provide promise of better things to come.” Ms White said.

The second stage to this pilot is to return to Pokai Marae at a later date to hold a workshop on rongoa and consult with the local whanau to develop an interpretation panel which will have pictures of the various plants and trees with their traditional uses. “We are looking forward to continuing to work together."

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