Discover the Healing Power of Native Plants with Rongoā Māori

Ever wondered about the health benefits of the native plants in your garden?  Ever thought they might bring more than just native wildlife and a touch of beauty?  Some of our natives can be used in natural therapies and remedies to bring health and wellbeing.   We asked Tricia Curtis, a dedicated rongoā Māori1 practitioner, who runs the beautiful website www. and who also operates a rongoā Māori clinic out of Te Herenga Waka o Orewa Marae, about one of her favourites. 

“Our wonderful tātarāmoa (rubus cissoides) is in the same family as the blackberry and the raspberry sharing many common traits. There are five different species of tātarāmoa endemic to Aotearoa and they all have similar medicinal properties. Commonly known as bush lawyer (because of it’s thorny tendency to latch on and not let go), tātarāmoa has been used historically by Māori as a treatment for vomiting, stomach ache, abdominal pains, diarrhoea, and dysentery often in combination with other native plants. 

It has an affinity with the female hormonal system being useful for dysmenorrhoea (painful menstruation), to bring on the menses and help dispel the whenua (placenta). Traditionally vapour baths and hot stones from fires made with tātarāmoa vines were used after delivery. 

These days women in labour may use a spritzer made from tātarāmoa leaves to ease them through transition, the final and most intense stage of birthing. 

These days tātarāmoa is an important remedy for mental health. I most commonly use tātarāmoa these days to calm an agitated nervous system.  It helps ease the transition for someone coming off drugs or alcohol. Tātarāmoa helps to settle the mind and the body. As part of a self-care regime a nightly brew taken before bed will usually bring on a deep and refreshing sleep, and for someone with anxiety about a forthcoming event preventing sleep, it will help. 

For teething babies it’s a palatable brew. Teething can be a difficult time for some littlies when their central nervous system is under a lot of stress, so a teaspoon or two of a tea made from the leaves can help to calm and settle an agitated babe. 

To make a tātarāmoa tea, pour a cup of boiling water over 2 or 3 leaves and steep for 5-10 minutes.  The leaves can be fresh or dried. 

Tricia reminds us that “As always, the correct plant identification is the number one rule. You can always contact me to make up fresh tonics or to supply dried leaves.” 

1Rongoā Māori, the traditional healing system of the Māori people, encompasses a wide range of natural therapies, including herbal medicine, physical therapies, and spiritual healing. Rooted in a deep understanding of the natural world, rongoā Māori practitioners utilise native plants to promote health and well-being.