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Aroha mai - due to unforeseen circumstance, the Dental Van will not be visiting Thames 15 to 24 January. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause and will readvertise as soon as we have dates of when we will be able to offer this service.
If you have already got an appointment, please contact the person who referred you for more information.
When Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki Mirimiri practitioner Val Yeates was little, she used to get woken up by her whangai grandmother “Mumma Sue Williams”, alongside her cousin Phyllis and taken into the bush.
They were not allowed to eat until they returned and were only allowed to have a wash and drink water before they left.
“We were never told why, we just did not eat until we had finished what we went in for,” Val recalls. “We’d always be back for lunch and the other kids would laugh because we hadn’t eaten. We thought we were being punished, but of course, now I know we were being taught.”
Val says Mumma Sue would take the pair to the edge of the bush and leave them there while she gathered her harvest, coming back a few hours later with a kete full of plants.
“We had to be quiet,” Val says. “Mumma Sue would speak to the bush and then she would leave us with ‘family’ and we’d touch the plants, sit against them, tune in and feel things – Phyllie saw things and I could feel things. We gave name to plants as we understood them to be. It took a while but that’s how Phyllis and I learned together.”
Val says Mamma Sue never taught them the name of the plants nor read from any books and Val says that never worried her.
“If I went into the bush, I just knew what I needed,” she says. “The fantail would come and off we’d go and that’s how I harvested for years.”
She says they received the significance of their names from the plants themselves.
“You didn’t question why, because that was questioning them, so you just accept you’d feel the energy or see it,” she says.
Val says rongoā teaches people to listen to their bodies. “You always know when to stop, because you start feeling that you don’t need anymore - and that’s your body telling you that you’ve now reached the point you’re ready to heal without it, you yourself now need to step up and take a long look and move forward.
“We are, the rongoā are, we all are, of the same family, just in different forms. There is also the higher realm of knowledge looking over and after you. If you doubt how you expect their help - if you don’t believe it will help you, then it definitely won’t.”
Val stopped working with plants in her teens.
“It took me being really sick and my mum, Vida Yeates, to fully understand, that “walking the rhythm of not eating and just drinking and allowing the body to rest and clean before filling it once more was wiser and slower, with more chewing then filling.”
She mostly kept her gift quiet after she married, only calling on some of the remedies when her children were young.
Her pathway changed, however, when she met Irone Cooke while training as a Mirimiri practitioner 20 years ago. At the time, Irone was working at Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki as a Mirimiri practitioner. The pair got talking and Val was soon making her special bush balms.
It wasn’t long before she came into contact with whaea Janey Poutu at Te Korowai, who, recognising that Val harboured a true gift of knowledge, was soon steering her towards an official rongoā course.
“I still didn’t know the names of the plants I worked with and Janey told me that if I wanted to join Te Korowai I needed to get the names of the plants right,” Val says.
Both Val and Irone trained with Rob McGowan ``Pa Ropata” in Tauranga, who is employed by the University of Waikato as Education Officer and by Nga Whenua Rahui.
Val says the three of them had a vision to bring rongoā into Te Korowai and held their first workshop in 2002. “It started back then as a dream – three of us sharing the knowledge we all had.”
While Irone and Whaea Janey have both since passed, Val has continued to work at Te Korowai for the past 13 years as Mirimiri practitioner, and this year started her first Rongoā workshops within the kaumātua rōpū group in Coromandel.
"They are not just my workshops, they are our workshops,” Val says. "It's about being as one alongside kaumātua, teaching and, at the same time, sharing knowledge.
“We have our older kuia honouring the pronunciation of names, others bringing in their knowledge and sharing that knowledge.”
She says the group learns to identify plants they can take without harming themselves and what the plants can do internally and externally working with the full body system.
“If you put all the plants together, they work in harmony as you weave different rongoā in the body. When we are all working together as a family, we weave a pattern, and these are safe patterns for mind, body and soul.”
Val puts out a huge thanks to her ‘boss’, Poukura Oranga Manager Public and Community Health Services Debbie Petersen-Pilcher, who she says has enabled Val, Irone and Janey's dream to flow higher once again.
“I know Janey and Irone are with me in this journey.”
Te Korowai Hauora clients in Thames can now receive clinical procedures in the clinic’s newly converted Treatment Room.
Having a separate Treatment Room will give nurses more space to work with clients on procedures that would normally take up time and space in GP consultation rooms, while at the same time freeing those rooms up for GP visits.
While procedures requiring more privacy such as cervical smears, will still be held in the consultation rooms, IV antibiotics, ECGs, vaccinations, dressings, elective incisions and other “lumps and bumps” will now be done in the Treatment Room, comprising 3 cubicles separated by curtains - similar to what you would see in an ED department.
The initiative comes 18 months before Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki moves its Clinical, Hinengaro Mental Health, Whānau Ora Nursing and Whānau Ora social services to Thames Hospital under a shared Model of Care plan with Thames Hospital and Waikato District Health Board.
Poukura Hauora Clinical Services Manager Taima Campbell says bringing these key services together in one wing in the hospital will provide a wraparound service for Te Korowai clients, ensuring that many of their needs can be met at the same time.
“So, it’s not just about general practice it’s a lot broader. We can’t get everyone in one corridor, but we can get everyone under one roof,” she says.
In preparation for the move in 2021, the Hinengaro Mental Health and Whānau Ora teams are in the process of moving from their present locations in the historic Brian Boru building to rooms above the Thames Clinic, which will mean clients will have immediate access to extended care if required.
Taima says by reshuffling now, it means they will be more familiar with the workflow by the time they move into the hospital.
“We can start testing how we will work together and start trialling different processes so when we go the hill up - it will be normal.”
She says most large medical centres have a treatment space for nurses to work with patients.
“So, it’s a fairly standard normal way of working.”