May 4th, 2019- Tauranga.
Jacob and Grant
Today was about connecting to the Mouri which exists in all living things, connecting us in ways we are not used to considering in the states. Donna Kerridge, Maori health practitioner and educator, took us through the realization of this connection. We took the time to become one with the landscape and all its components. Part of this was embracing that we do not own the land, rather we are the youngest members of the land and, as such, are stewards of it. In the teachings of the day, there was emphasis placed on respecting one’s elders and place of belonging. This formed a link back to the ancestry of each member of the group as well as a link to the land which has been here long before us.
The link between health and ecology was extremely clear today. The fact that we were in the forest, talking to a health care professional with such a strong tie to nature made the connection between health and the native land of New Zealand almost tangible. Donna explained how specific vegetation like flax and kawa-kawa can treat ailments, but so can the simple exposure to nature. We embraced the presence of the environment and its spiritually healing force through a period of contemplative silence at the foot of a spectacular waterfall.
From the healthcare lens of today’s lesson, it was not only life changing, but career changing. The viewpoint that healthcare workers can take back to the states is the appreciation and the importance of nature and the patients we take care of. Today has allowed us to care for the patient as a whole, not only the physical ailments. We also learned a lot about natural remedies that nature gives us that the rest of the world tends to overlook.
The ecological perspective took new lessons away from this experience too. It was stressed how our fields are complementary and should be considered together instead of separate. Being ecologically focused isn’t about removing humans from ecological design. Instead, the focus should be on humans integrating with the environment and allowing the environment to heal us as it is designed to do. In return, healthy populations will value and conserve the environment to preserve their own health.
All of these lessons brought purpose to our day, something very important in sustaining health. After our tramp through the bush and lessons in intertwined health and ecology, we rounded out the day’s activities with a few hours at the beach. We shared in each other’s company and nature’s beauty one last time for the day by watching the sun set on the horizon next to Mount Maunganui, the site of tomorrow’s morning hike.
Stay tuned for more updates!