A Tokoroa beneficiary and solo mother of six is aiming to turn her life around, and the lives of others, by exporting traditional Maori medicine.
Qualified rongoa practitioner Karla Crooks is in the process of exporting a line of her topical rongoa (medicine) to Australia as a way of keeping local treatments affordable.
Crooks, who recently opened an holistic wellbeing clinic at the Tokoroa Community Centre in Maraetai Rd called Rakau Rongoa, makes an exclusive line of topical rongoa, used to treat the likes of eczema, pimples, and dermatitis. She also makes internal cleansers for conditions that start in the gut.
While adhering to traditional tikanga (customs) she’s adapted the way she makes many of her rongoa through experimentation.
For fear of being copied she wouldn’t go into the finer details of how she makes her products but said they are made from mainly locally sourced natural ingredients including mamaku and kawakawa among others.
Despite having limited money she never asks for more than a koha (donation) for treatments at her clinic, believing rongoa should be free for all New Zealands, but she is also aware the clinic needs to be financially viable if it’s to continue long term.
“A lot of my clients want to keep paying and it is so hard to take it because I know they don’t have any money, “she said.
“I am a solo mum, I am still on a benefit, and I am still trying to get off it but rongoa is also not something you should be profiting from as it is something free, it belongs to the people of New Zealand.”
With natural alternative medicines catching on around the world she said exporting seemed like a good solution.
“I’ve already sent some over to Australia and I have a brother in Perth who said he’ll help with the marketing as i’m terrible with it,” she said.
“When my children say they want a tablet or a phone I say just wait man,” she laughed.
Crooks learnt how to make her medicines, which were used for hundreds of years by Maori before they were oppressed in the early 1900s, while studying towards a level four Certificate in Rongoa Maori Appreciation at Tokoroa’s Te Wananga o Aotearoa campus.