A rongoā garden has been opened as a focus for traditional Māori medicine learning in Te Mata Park, near Havelock North.
On the upper slopes of the new block purchased in 2019 following a huge community fundraising effort, it was blessed on Sunday by kaumātua Jerry Hapuku, attended by volunteers he has named Te Roopu Puke ātea.
Park supporter Emma Buttle says it is an exciting project that now has a keen group of 15 to 20 volunteers, keen to learn about the principles and philosophies of rongoā healing, and medicinal plants.
It will be cared for by the volunteers with advice and guidance from local expert Tyne-Marie Nelson, who has been taught the rongoā principles and practice from Robert (Pa) McGowan, regarded as New Zealand's leading rongoā practitioner.
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Te Mata Park volunteer and education co-ordinator Sara Shaw has been instrumental in leading the project and keeping in touch with the volunteers, and it is intended the garden will become adorned with signage highlighting the medicinal and other properties of the plants.