Taboo treatment

THE ancient Maori therapy, Romiromi, is finally emerging from the shadows after a New Zealand government ban that lasted for more than 50 years.

The holistic treatment, which combines massage and spiritual healing, was banned in the 1907 Tohunga Suppression Act, which prevented people using Maori practices that had a spiritual or supernatural element.

Romiromi finally became legal in 1962, but local practitioner Gabrielle Walker says it’s only recently become popular again.

“Everything went underground,” she says.

“Some families kept up the practice, but it’s sort of been reclaimed now.

“People are teaching it and sharing it and speaking up about it.”

Walkers says Romiromi exploits internal and external pressure points like other massage-based treatments, but also addresses individual’s spiritual, emotional and physical needs.

On the eve of moving to New Zealand to start a new job, this Herald reporter decided to go for a Romiromi session at Walker’s studio in Beeliar.

• Romiromi practitioner Gabrielle Walker in her Beeliar studio. Photo by Alice Angeloni

It began with me telling Walker about what’s been happening in my life and areas that I hoped to target through the treatment.

Walker took my “energy reading”, used to map my session, and I hopped onto a table and lay down.

The next hour or so unfolded in a series of sensory pleasures-massage, strong holds on pressure points, spoken softly Maori words, a resonating drum and the sensations and tingling of energy moving through my body.

Who should attend a Romiromi session?

Walker says there’s no rhyme or reason, but if you feel “connected” to the idea, come and have a crack.

“For some people it’s physical pain. But for most of my clients, they’re looking for a shift in their spiritual life. They are feeling quite stagnant in their work or relationships and they want to move through a block in that way.”

Walker, who has a Maori father, says she has always felt like a bridge between western and Maori cultures.

“Romiromi has really helped me to be grounded in my identity and it’s been the thing that resonates with me most about Maori culture.”

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