WAVE funding has made a huge difference to the ability to deliver on the vision of Māmā Gee. Gina has been able to develop packaging for her handmade rongoā products (balms, oils, tinctures, body butters, syrups, all of which she makes herself.

Gina Malcolm’s journey into mātauranga Māori holistic rongoā has been a life changing one. Now, as Māmā Gee the business she set up three years ago, she is encouraging whānau to intuitively seek out their pathway for healing towards becoming the best they can be.

“Intuitively, Rongoā ties us back to our tīpuna and our whakapapa. We belong to it. It’s in our DNA and it offers us another pathway to holistic wellbeing. The ways in which we acknowledge and connect with our practices in rongoā and te taiao allows us to fully embrace our birthright as Māori –  we are at a place in time, where we should be encouraged to learn, utilise and engage with both Western, traditional and any other holistic medicines/practices, it’s all ancestral,” she says.

Invercargill-based Gina (Te Āti Haunui a Pāpārangi, Ngāti Hauiti, Te Arawa, Tainui), began her rongoā journey when her youngest son, Utiku Potaka Poihakena-Jackson, required a liver transplant at just six months old.

“Half our whānau had to move to Starship Hospital in Auckland for almost 18 months and I was so far away from the people and the support I needed,” she says.

“That’s when I started looking at other holistic healing to help him (and our whānau) through his journey.”

Later, aged six, Utiku developed lymphatic cancer which required chemotherapy treatment at Starship.

“It was after that that I really focused on holistic ways to ‘clean out his system.’ That’s what truly awakened and inspired my rongoā journey. I knew other whānau must also be struggling in similar situations and I wanted to help them weave wellness into their lives.”

Today, Māmā Gee offers mirimiri hauora sessions, ascension coaching, rongoā- rau infused products, hauora programmes, workshops and wānanga – all based around the vision of te raranga i te whakapapa whakaora – to weave the whakapapa of wellbeing and wellness within whānau.

Gina was initially a stay-at-home mum (with three sons) with a whānau history of working in the shearing industry and struggling with personal addictions. She credits much of her early personal change and renewed confidence in herself to her work with Manaaki Mama, Chelita Kahutianui-o-te-Rangi Zainey (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu, Waitaha), of Little River, Māhorahora – plus learning from the collective of creative natives and of course the grandmothers/ grandfathers.

“I was activated through Manaaki Mama’s workshops. I’d been searching for answers for a long time and she helped guide and weave possibilities together with me. I’ve worked alongside her ever since and it’s been a constantly evolving journey for myself and my wider whānau.”

“Utiku is now 13 and my elder sons are 19 (Rapana) and 20 (Darryn), and we’re all much more conscious of everything around us and the way we live our lives. Manaaki Mama’s impact on our journey has been incredible. Her guidance has enabled us all to work at becoming better versions of ourselves.”

“That’s an ongoing journey of course and it’s the rongoā pathway I promote through Hine Mahuta Hauora. It’s all about encouraging others to trust intuitively in themselves, their chosen pathways of wellbeing and to learn to stand within their own power.”

Gina adds that receiving Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu WAVE funding in 2022 has made a huge difference to her ability to deliver on her vision. She has been able to develop packaging for her handmade rongoā products (balms, oils, tinctures, body butters, syrups, which makes herself); it’s allowed her to travel to learn more about rongoā and personal growth; and it’s enabled the establishment of online socials, website and the purchase of a cabin, so she can work from home.

“Te Pūtahitanga funding has been priceless. It’s made a big difference to us. We all live every day as it comes now and we live gratefully.”