Harnessing the power of plants
Smoking addictions, skin conditions and fertility treatment - plants have the power to heal it all, Waitakere resident Lui Perez says.
In the right hands, leaves, herbs and flowers from the native bush can have profound benefits to a person's health and wellbeing.
It's known as traditional Maori healing and Perez, 44, has made it his life's work.
"We have great forests right on our back doorstep," he says.
"Everything we need for our health is up in the Waitakere Ranges."
Couples struggling to conceive are among clients Perez has helped.
"Some people have tried for years and I work to clear a mental block and remove past trauma.
"The last child from a family I helped was born three weeks ago and another one's due in a couple of weeks," he says.
Perez believes every condition has an underlying catalyst contributing to the illness.
"Everything's linked. It sits within the body and manifests into an illness or distress."
His healing approach involves two aspects - mirimiri and romiromi.
Mirimiri is psychological and taps into trauma a client may be holding on to.
Romiromi is physical and involves massage and natural medicine made from native plants like kawakawa, which is good for cancer treatment, and karamuramu for cleansing.
Perez grew up around deep Maori massage, which was performed by his grandparents.
But it wasn't until 20 years ago when he met traditional healer Hohepa Delamere that he realised its true benefits.
"I was taken to another level and had a much deeper understanding around the spiritual side," he says.
Along with partner Tracey Te Paa, who makes healing creams, Perez established Te Maurea and holds workshops and clinics at the Titirangi Community House.
To mark the beginning of Matariki, the pair will also start operating from Ranui's total immersion school Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Kotuku tomorrow.
Perez says there isn't a right or wrong answer for the age-old debate of natural versus conventional medicine.
He encourages clients to use a combination if need be and never forces them into trying something if they're reluctant.
"You can only take people to the door and they have to walk through," he says.
Call Perez on 021 022 79962 or go to facebook.com and search "Te Maurea".