The Mānuka Tree and How It Has Helped For Centuries

Native flora has deep roots in Māori medicine or rongoa. For centuries the unique healing properties of the mānuka tree have been called upon for a range of ailments, from bad breath to burns.

Manuka Tree Maori healing

When the first European settlers stepped foot onto Aotearoa in the 18th century, they were naively bewildered that the Māori people they encountered were in good health.

Had the new arrivals known of Māori medicine or rongoa, their surprise would have been non-existent. 

The Māori tohunga (priests and healers) turned to lush forests teeming with medicinal plants instead of medicine cabinets, and their holistic and herbal approach to medicine remains relevant today.

Rongoa healing comprises several elements: herbal remedies, spiritual healing, massage (miromiro) and prayer (karakia).

Instead of focussing purely on ‘fixing’ the medical issue, Rongoa principles embrace a more holistic approach, considering events and factors that may have contributed to the illness, rather than merely treating symptoms.

Rongoa medicine also believes that some ailments stem not from medical issues but from spiritual causes, such as a violation of tapu (something deemed sacred and therefore restricted).

There are over 200 native plants with recorded medicinal uses. The most common and versatile include Harakeke (flax), Kawakawa, Rata and, of course, Mānuka.

The Mānuka tree has been a staple in Māori medicine for centuries.

It has been used to treat ailments from fevers to burns. All parts of the Mānuka tree were utilised - the seeds, flowers, bark, wood and leaves all in one form or another. Like the Australian tea tree, Mānuka is a natural antiseptic, and has strong antimicrobial properties, making it an ideal healer and protector.

manuka essential oil

Ash from the mānuka tree was rubbed onto the scalp to treat dandruff, and used on other parts of the body suffering from skin diseases.

  • A concoction made from the bark was used as a sedative, and to treat scalds and burns. The inner bark was also boiled, with the liquid gargled as a mouthwash, or drunk as a remedy for dysentery and diarrhoea.
  • Vapour from leaves boiled in water was used for colds, and a tea brewed from the leaves drunk to ease fever.
  • Raw Mānuka berries were given to young babies to ease colic and the gum was given to babies suffering from constipation.
  • In a more hands-on approach, the Mānuka branches were used to splint broken arms and legs.

Drawing inspiration from rongoa, and the teachings of the tohunga, ManukaRx ointment uses East Cape Mānuka oil to treat chapped lips, dry skin, scratches, insect bites and more. Mānuka sourced from the East Cape of New Zealand is famed for its exceptionally high levels of triketones, which boost the oils antimicrobial properties, making it more effective against bacteria.

manuka ointment

Available in a pocket-friendly 25g, our mānuka ointment makes centuries-old natural medicine easily accessible where you need it, when you need it.


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