Interview by Evelyn Einhaeuser
How is health and wellbeing defined in your tradition and when is someone considered healthy?
When I talk with my Elders, they understand health and wellbeing to mean one is in great health and harmony with their environment, their community, their spirit, their physical being, their mental aspects, the internal chemical environment of the body, the biological state of the body, their family, their emotional being and so on. Also in saying that there is consideration of the land, the sea, the forests, all animals above ground and below and more. An example is one of my Aunties’ who was considered grossly overweight by her Western doctors. And yet she did not feel this in herself, nor did it stop her from doing things that most would consider undoable by someone of her weight. She weighed 250lbs (or more) yet she would walk on someone much smaller than her and when I say walked on them, I mean she was walking on top of their backs, legs, arms, sometimes head, belly, front of thighs, etc.
In India there are many theories about the origin of sickness. Some believe at its root is a spiritual disconnection, others believe in an eternal system of cause and effect and again others think that all problems are caused by the mind and must therefore be resolved by a change in the mind structure. Why do people become sick in your perception?
As each of us are different and what causes the many and varied ailments we succumb to are anyone of the above and more. So it comes back to how we are living, how we look after ourselves, and when we start to connect and re-connect with ourselves.
One of the biggest issues I see with many is their lack of physical understanding about the body and when it starts to flare up (show indications of pain) and what is best to be done about this. Most people will see their doctor as their first line of healing. Others will go to a chemist and get over the counter support. Most of our Elders and my dad I include in this, would see their doctor and still use his Rongoa (Maori bush herbs and medicine) as part of his healing regime. My personal belief is that there are several things going on within the body / mind / soul that when something is out for an amount of time (we each specify this time frame individually) and it doesn't get resolved, then the body will start to look around within itself for healing. When this doesn't occur it takes things into it's own hands, and does it's best to start healing - i.e.: a tumor, a headache, water on the lung, inflammation of parts of the body, etc. My Elders believe that first there is a spiritual disconnection within the person, so they have specific types of prayers on hand for clearance of that, then there is a type of Romiromi (deep tissue pressure bodywork), Mirimiri (spiritual connection with the body), Takutaku (chants), Karakia (prayer), Kaupare (cleansing of the physical body), Puure (spiritual cleanse done in the sea), Tohi (release of entities), Whakawaatea (cleansing of the land or home) and more.
I see people are so 'out' of themselves, that at times it seems like no one is home. When no one is home, who is looking after the body. Makes for interesting conversation when I bring it to a persons attention.
Do all sicknesses lead to blockages in the cellular memory of the body?
This is a very perceptive question, as I believe it is two or three fold, meaning it has many answers. And this is what my elders speak of a lot, that ALL questions have more than one answer, especially when we look at things HOLISTICALLY. A blockage of the heart can come about because of a broken relationship where the person has not allowed the heart to heal. So this calls in to play other issues, a broken heart - heart attack / enflamed heart - high blood pressure (boiling point) / cold hearted - disconnected from realities. Manawa connects you directly to the heart line. The line talks of the family dynamics if they are not up to scratch then the heart is challenged.
The same can be said for all other parts of the body and the environment we live in.
Do these sicknesses lead to blockages in the cellular memory, YES!!
Are these cellular memories only from this life or can there be cellular residues either from past generations or from past lives?
Again one of those questions that have more than one answer to it. In our traditional teachings, it is recognized that we have cellular memory from past, present and future.
We believe that illnesses in some families come about because of a kink in the bloodline - someone did an act out of integrity which brought about a level of disgrace or lack of mana and so they 'point the bone' at the future 'uri - kinship' of this person.
Or Makutu is another form of ailment from the past, which has more to do with witchcraft or sorcery and tied in with jealousy. I see it used in modern day times and having to remove it, depending on the person’s level of knowledge about energy and illness can range from easy or difficult.
Well the most spiritual words in existence are "LET GO"! and we use them often.
A lot of the work is restorative justice and mental revitalisation - Te Hau Toki (chemically, biologically, spiritually).
Are there places that are more conducive for healing than others and if so, what is special about these places?
Yes there are. For me, where I come from the land where I grew up holds a lot of healing power for me. And we use the sea (beach) for some of our spiritual cleansing ceremonies, as well as specific mountain ranges where we still hold outdoor / night time classes.
For me it is the energetic power of the land or the sea, or where old 'schools of learning' were held. For instance, where I come from up north, there is a place where people who wanted to learn how to fly would go to learn this art. When I stand there, I can feel 'something' deep within me and it comes from that place. Where all our old schools of learning were held, there is definitely some energy vortices in the land, the sea, the mountains, etc.
But I also believe that where there were places of pain, anger, war, etc. these can be healed and turned in to places of healing.
Often if I am working amongst my own people, we will work in the bush, under trees, in the open spaces outside and even in the night outside. There is so much magic that happens when we're out of doors and people 'get it'.
How do you diagnose people?
We don't diagnose, everything is real time. We listen to what they've got to say, as well as having a knowing on how to read the body. For example, someone who complains of hip, groin, lower back pain, often you will see marks on the lower back, around the hips or the groin area. Most people think these are stretch marks, yet stretch marks run a different way to pain marks. We understand this to mean the body is talking to you all the time and it does it's best to show you.
I can taste someone's pain, someone's anger, someone's depression, someone's healing as well as someone's joy etc. and the same goes for hearing it, smelling it, feeling it. So what we can see, taste, feel, hear; we are able to use those senses in the healing. An example, when a young girl walks past me and her body emits a specific smell, I know she has been sexually abused. I find this happens when the body / spirit is ready for healing.
Kiri-oo-tua, the skin, is an ear of the body. We vibrate it in various ways so that the skin can do its work on the body (we do that with a blunt oyster or mussel shell with shark oil for example).
We are taught a form of 'Pere' - to pierce or penetrate (how one deals with the human emotions for they all pierce and penetrate the body) in order to stop it, there are two things that can be done, dull the blade or put up a shield.
Can you say something to the techniques you use in RomiRomi and MiriMiri? Do they just involve touch or also sound or the use of elements or other tools?
There are many different techniques to Romiromi. That is why when someone watches they think they see us doing the same things on each person. Every time there is difference and it could be in the pressure, where we work, how we work, whether it's deep pressure on the back and shoulders and light in the belly or the other way around. Some people describe Mirimiri to be the spiritual and communicative link. In the teachings that I have, Ro - internals / Mi - to stimulate / Ri - to agitate, so that is your answer to Romiromi and Mirimiri. We stimulate and agitate to help the body re-order itself. We also use sound and chants, leaves, stones, sand, a specific type of clay or whatever works from nature.
Do you need physical strength to conduct Romi Romi and Miri Miri?
I have an 87 year old Aunty who still does the body work. She just KNOWS how to work the body, and she would be 60 - 65kg. Our bodywork is not about the weight you carry or the strength you have, it's about where and how you work the body. While I don't know the body anatomically the way it is taught in schools of massage I know the body the way we are taught. How energy runs, how to vibrate the bones, loosen the muscles, open the airways, enliven the internal waters, calm the mind and the one thing I know we have that is not taught anywhere else, is our FEARLESSNESS in the work we do.
In the Vedic tradition healers are seen as vehicles for a higher force. They are not the doers, they merely function for spirit. Are you holding spirit when you do healings in the sense that you become a vehicle for something higher?
We are not only holding spirit we are spirit. We are also told that we are not the healers, the greatest healer in a persons life is the one we are working on.
Do you combine prayer with your healing sessions?
Always, there is never a time when this is not happening, have happened, going to happen. When we work in our tribal homes we will have our Elders around, singing, praying, playing cards, joking around, telling stories. They are watching our backs and there will be an instant when nothing is said, all noise ceases, and suddenly people start praying, unprompted, unscripted, just all energy.
How important is the breath?
ABSOLUTE!! There is no other, it is stronger than love, how do I know, hold your breath and think of LOVE!! Which will come first?
There is also a technique with the breath that we use when working which determines how long we hold a point for, how long we go deep for, as well as that it keeps us strong and present when we're working.
Which blockages and sicknesses can be resolved and which not?
In my belief all blockages and sicknesses can be resolved. That is the beauty of each of us being these individuals where some are regenerated, some just manage to get through and others succumb.
Are there blockages in our body that should not be removed and if so, why?
The only time I know of blockages that cannot be removed from the body is working with entities. There are some that are bigger, older, and stronger than my energy, my knowing. Our Elder Papa Joe used to talk of these entities and some of them were so ancient and all knowing in their power that it was beyond the human knowledge to remove them. Unless one had the skill of a true Tohunga of which I don't, that is a very different skill altogether.
How many sessions do people need?
It's dependent on the person and what the reasons they are hanging on to issues for. As well most times with the work we do, someone can get all they need in that one session, but the mind and the body believe in LAG, meaning it takes time. Spiritually the essence of the person gets the work straight away, but the mind takes over and believes that time is needed to heal.
How do people feel after the session usually?
Different for everyone, some can breathe through it all, others struggle. But always there is a level of movement, no matter what. People may not feel it in the physical but definitely they recognize it in the spiritual realm as well as the energetic and chemical one...
Can everyone be a healer or are there certain capacities one must have, like a special capacity or width of the heart? If you have to have certain capacities, can these be developed or do they have to be inherited?
Our elders said, everyone is born a healer. And this is true, how else do we heal our bones, cuts, bruises, etc. that occur. This is unconscious knowing. Then there are those who are blessed with the families they are birthed in to, where there is generational and ancestral knowledge that is passed down.
When I teach, there is no classroom, and that comes from working alongside my Aunts who would often say, the only way to learn is to get your hands dirty - meaning just do as they instruct.
Do you ever take on the energy or sickness of somebody and how do you protect yourself from that?
We kaupare (do cleansing prayers) every time we work one someone, and also we use water, food, breath, land and trees to keep us grounded and present. It is only on rare occasions that I'll do this, especially if it is a child.
Can a healer be energetically depleted from helping too many people?
I have not found that for me personally, although I have seen many others who come to work with us in the US or Europe and they have end up burning out or tiring before we're half way through the day. I think we're used to running big energy and don't realize it.
Do you have to follow certain rituals to stay healthy yourself?
Being happy in what I do, healing is a passion, in fact teaching the healing arts of my ancestors is the passion, healing is a deep love and watching people becoming empowered about what they are doing to help themselves.
How is knowledge transferred in your tradition, orally or by observation or in other ways?
Orally. I learnt from the age of 3 onwards (being around with my Aunties’ when they were doing the healing), the same with my son and now his son Kiwa has been learning the work since he was 3. But not only orally, I get them to work alongside me, hands on learning is the best formula.
If you could give one advice to people on how to stay healthy, what would you tell them?
Be happy first and foremost. Stop the mind churning. Enjoy life and all she brings fully.
When do you feel most whole/ healthy?
When I am home with my family, in a place I love deeply, doing something worthy or worthwhile.