Mon 27: Medicine

Lots of plants have medicinal properties, even in New Zealand. Let’s learn about rongoa.

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Lots of plants have medicinal properties, even in New Zealand. Even hospitals are interested in how plants and traditional remedies can help us when we’re sick. Below are some talking points and activities to pass the time, all relating to today’s story.

Talking points

Discuss the ideas presented in the story with your family—at home or over video conferencing. Find ways to involve as many people as possible, especially those who you know are isolated by the lock-down.

  • Did you know that plants could be used as medicine? Do you think there could be plant extracts in the medicine you get from the pharmacy?
  • How do you think Māori and other indigenous people developed such a good knowledge of the different ways plants could help people? How do you feel when you read that Māori herbal remedies were outlawed in the past? Why might this have happened?
  • In the top photos a woman is picking St John’s Wort. She says it is a “great friend” of hers. What do you think she means by this? What could she mean when she says it is “liquid sunshine?”
  • Goldminers planted trees and bushes when they came to Central Otago as a “living first aid kit.’ What do you think this means? Do you know how to use any of the plants around you to help you when you get hurt? Do you think it would be fun to find out about this? Why might it be important to check with an adult before you chew or swallow a plant?
  • Human activity such as building houses takes away the land that medicinal plants grow on. However, houses are needed. Can you think of any ways to provide room for medicinal plants as well as people?

Task—Make Medicinal Tea

Can you find a kawakawa plant or some rose bushes near your house? Both of these plants will make a wonderful healthy cup of tea. Other leaves you can pick to make tea include fig, lemon balm, dandelion and mint.

Rosehip tea. On a rose bush, look for the red “fruit” on the bush. Pick a handful and put them in a tea pot with boiling water and a teaspoonful of honey. Steep for 10 minutes. Rosehips are high in vitamin C so this provides support to your immune system.

Kawakawa tea. On a kawakawa plant, look for leaves with holes in them—these have the highest medicinal qualities. Pick 2-3 leaves and put them in a teapot with boiling water and a teaspoonful of honey. Some people also add some fresh ginger or a splash of lemon juice. Steep for 5 minutes. Kawakawa leaves support your digestive system.

Send us a picture of your medicinal tea!