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Maori medicine video a hit

Saturday January 12, 2019 Written by Published in Hot on the Rock
Josh Baker pictured with Susan Love de Miguel at an exhibition at the Tavioni Gallery and Vananga at Atupa last Saturday. His video on Maori medicine featuring his father, Nooroa Baker, attracted much attention at the art show. 19010763 Josh Baker pictured with Susan Love de Miguel at an exhibition at the Tavioni Gallery and Vananga at Atupa last Saturday. His video on Maori medicine featuring his father, Nooroa Baker, attracted much attention at the art show. 19010763

Nooroa Baker has shared the process of making vairakau ati or the bone medicine, a natural treatment for bone fractures, in a short video supported by the “We are Young Pacific Leaders” and “Cultural Vistas” group.

 

The video, edited by his son Joshua, was posted on a Facebook page and also featured at an art exhibition last weekend.

The video has quickly become popular not only with Cook Islanders, but with many people around the Pacific, as it promotes the importance of traditional knowledge.

The short film has been shared by hundreds of people and has received many positive comments. The video was shared on Ridge to Reef Cook Islands Facebook page.

The traditional gift of making bone medicine was passed down to Nooroa by his grandmother who was taught by her grandfather and generations before her.

In the video, Baker says: “In the old days, I remember I used to go and collect the ingredients for my grandmother for the injured rugby players; they would come to my grandmother for the medicine.”

He says his grandmother would make the medicine and his job was to collect the ingredients to put it together

“In those days I used to get annoyed because it was not an easy job. I used to get angry but now I understand how important the medicine is.”

In the film Baker demonstrates how he peels of the bark of a tree and cuts up and peels the layers. The material is then pounded until it is soft and the juice is taken from it. He then does the same with a coconut tree which he says must be “not too young nor too old” - about eight or nine years of age.

“So once you have finished peeling the bark of the nu or the coconut tree and the au (beach hibiscus), you start pounding the bark until it becomes soft because you need to squeeze the juice of the nu and the au.”

In making the medicine the coconut bark that was peeled and pounded is soaked, as is the beach hibiscus bark, and squeezed in a bath tub. Before bathing in the tub, you need to drink a glass of the medicine – but just once.

Baker says you must soak yourself in the tub twice a day for three days, in the morning and in the afternoon.

On the third day after bathing, you bury the bark of the au and the green coconut tree bark, because you are not allowed to burn it.

“I don’t know why but that’s what my grandmother taught me. She believed that there is sacred power in the medicine to help join the bone and make it grow.”

Bakers says: “Our traditional medicines these days are disappearing because we are not teaching our children anymore. My vision is for parents to teach their children about our traditional medicines.

“I will try and teach my children if they are interested to learn about my grandmother’s medicine.

“It’s up to them. I can’t force them to make it, if they are not interested in making it.

“To make this medicine you have to be interested in making it because if you are not the medicine won’t work.

“Your mind has to be willing to help the people and your heart must be in it,” Baker adds as the short film ends.

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