Update from Raumati 2021

Posted by Mahuru Wilcox on

This summer season has literally flown by...I actually don't know where the weeks, then months went! It's been my second summer as a māmā, and it's been much more active than the last, with a toddler who loves being outdoors. It's something that is really important to our whānau, to nurture Matatū's love for our taiao. We are really lucky to live in Whāingaroa where we have easy access to the local ngahere (bush), tatahi (beach) and manga (streams).

The past 9 months has been a juggle with part-time mahi at Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, māmā life and keeping Hau Botanicals going, sometimes I really have no idea what day it is. Hau Botanicals definitely got put on the back burner a bit. I always like to harvest and create when I know I am able to give full attention and aroha to what I am doing. And often I was just too tired. I'm sure any working māmā can relate! But things seem to be shifting a bit and I now have some small goals which are coming to fruition (including this blog post!), which is always encouraging.

A few weeks ago, I took Matatū down to Te Waipõunamu with me for a week long holiday. It was exactly the wairua top-up that I needed. The first achievement was making it to Christchurch in one piece, with my arms in tact after hauling all our bags, the pram and child-carrier backpack. What a mission. Our first morning I had the absolute pleasure of having breakfast with Kristy from Aho Creative, and her lovely girls. We just chatted life and business, like we were old mates, only we had just met. I just love chatting to people who are grounded in their values and on a similar kaupapa, and it gave me the reinvigoration I so needed!

Then, we headed inland to stay with my sister, Moana, who is another amazing wahine, grounded in her values and living a very inspiring life. I miss not having her closer, and being able to have a cuppa and a biscuit together. Her life is based around her passion for hunting, and I can listen to her stories for hours. She took us on some epic adventures! We bounced up river beds in her truck, and I just had my mouth gaping from all the beautiful scenery and majestic maunga. We stayed a night in an alpine hut, which was so fun (aside from the guys snoring and farting all night) and hopefully it was a first of many. Matatū was an absolute legend and loved her time in the backpack, learning new words and bird calls. We saw glaciers, ate lots of tōtara and coprosma berries, took in the fresh mountain air and tapped out of our usual routine for a bit. I soooo needed it, and have come home feeling less fragmented. 

This summer, the plants have had fewer flowers and fruit. I'm not surprised after the abundance we saw last year. The pīpīwharauroa seemed to arrive a bit later in Spring than usual, and we definitely haven't had the same droughts we experienced in the past two summers. The plants have been healthy and lush, and not affected by disease and pests like they were last year. It's been the first summer in years that I have been able to harvest through the warmer months. Even though it was at a reduced volume, it meant that I could have oils on the go, without huge gaps in the steeping process. Everything seemed to have been turned down a notch, and I have felt like that in my own life too. The need to pull back on everything and have some space to just be. 

I have also been working on a new product in the background. It's a slightly different direction from what I currently create, but something I use almost daily and wish I had a low-waste, skin nourishing option. So watch this space! I don't do markets or many events, so I am also thinking of hosting an event locally. The thought of hosting parties or get togethers has always made me super nervous...what if no-one comes? But I think I need to get over that fear, because connecting with you all gives me the best vibes! It makes my day when I get messages or emails about your positive experiences with Hau Botanicals. So again, watch this space. People on the email list will get hear first about the new product and get first dibs on spaces at the event. You can sign up to the newsletter via my website. Stay safe and well as we head towards the cooler months and Matariki.

Mauri ora,

xx Mahuru

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Tuning out to tune in

Posted by Mahuru Wilcox on

Things have been a little quiet around these ways, since summer. And now it's nearly April, and I feel like I have been putting the building blocks in place after a busy time launching Hau Botanicals and a big rush before Christmas. Plus juggling a full time job and general life! I can’t tell you how incredibly humbled I have been, with all your support and stories of healing. Thank you, every single one of you. Amongst other things, the last few months have been a really important time for me to slow it right down and tune in. Tune into myself, and our taiao. It can be so easy to get caught up in the momentum, and lose sight of things a bit. One of the key things I wanted to maintain during this journey with Hau Botanicals, was to prioritise creating space. Space allows me to maintain creative flow, observe and integrate what I’m learning on the daily. So I thought I would share some of my musings and observations...

It’s been a really dry summer this year. A full-on drought really. We didn’t have rain (aside from the odd sprinkle) for about 3 months here in the Waikato. And the ngahere has really been hit hard. I observed drooping leaves and cracked soil, and streams had been replaced with trickles. A “productive year” was predicted back in June 2018, when Matariki rose clear and bright. We had a lunchtime seminar at Manaaki Whenua, with scholar and Māori astronomy expert Hēmi Whaanga who came in to talk to us about Matariki. He told us that based on their observations of Matariki, productivity was predicted to be high. And it sure has been! I have never seen our native plants flower so prolifically. The tree branches were groaning under the weight of all the flowers, and then fruit. The manu (birds) and ngangara (insects) were feasting on nectar, and pollen. And I got to see and hear large groups of tūī and piwaiwaka on my walks throughout the spring, and even some kākā made their way to Whāingaroa. I saw lots of juvenille birds in early summer, because well-fed birds successfully produce more chicks. In the late summer months, once the fruit had formed, I saw large numbers of fruit eating birds such as kererū. With a successful nesting season for our manu, and lots of fruit on the trees, there seemed to be an explosion of rats, mice and probably stoats.

So what has Matariki and productivity got to do with weather and drought? Well, they are intimately linked. And if you put this in the context of our atua and their relationships with each other, that makes a lot of sense. Plants often flower and fruit prolifically in preparation for drought. It's a way of getting as many seeds out there as possible, in case they don’t survive the dry period. I had to have a chuckle when I saw the Department of Conservation put out a video in January saying that there was going to be a “mega mast year” (ie all our native trees would fruit like never before), and a subsequent infestation of pests. I thought “Yeah, our Matariki experts predicted this back in June last year!”. Which really just goes to show that our people know our taiao the best of all.

One of the challenges has been the inability to collect rongoā in nearly 3 months. I have been walking through the ngahere, seeing the wilted leaves for months. And you should never take, when the rākau are stressed or tohu (signs) tell you “no”. I have had to use up the last of my steeping jars, and leave a number of products on the website as “sold out”. Some people have said to me “That’s no good for business!”. But I actually think it is the opposite. For me, what's not good for business is not sticking to my values, becoming another drain on our taiao, and putting the needs of others, myself and business over the needs of our rākau and all the creatures that rely on them. I have had to write many emails back to people explaining why I haven’t restocked for ages. But it has actually made me stronger in my resolve, more connected to myself and the world around me. And taught me some great lessons about integrity, letting go of control and trusting the process. I needed to create space, and there it was!

Only when you get out into the ngahere, the moana, the awa, the repo, can you tune in and observe what is around you, and often yourself. Over time, you see patterns or changes between weeks, months and years! And you can link those observations to other bodies of knowledge like matariki and maramataka, your own felt senses, your kaumātua, your tupuna, atua and beyond. This period of reflection, learning and integration has helped me reset my compass and ensure that I continue to follow internal and external tohu, tikanga and my values. I’d love to hear your whakaaro (thoughts) on this, and what tohu you look for.

Mahuru xx

Images taken by my talented brother Te Kawa Robb

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Manaaki tō kirimoko: The importance of natural skincare

Posted by Mahuru Wilcox on

I thought I would start off my writing journey by sharing a bit about my own journey with my skin. I have always had a tumultuous relationship with my skin. I never had perfect skin as a teenager, and I was always waiting to be an “adult” so that my skin would get better. But what I found, was it actually got worse in my 20’s! What the?! My confidence took such a huge blow, and I was always trying new products, looking for that silver bullet. Which never came. Harsh chemicals and astringents made it worse. I just didn’t know what to do.

Things took a turn for the better when someone suggested I tried accupuncture. On my first visit, the accupuncturist said to me “Your skin is how you present yourself to the world, and it reflects how you feel about yourself”. Accupuncture really helped me, and I realised I needed to make some significant changes in my life. This was the start of my journey working on my internal health and wellbeing. So naturally, it was also the start of my journey with rongoā and natural, organic skincare.

What you put on your skin is just as important as what you put into your body. Our skin is our largest organ. What we put on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream, so any harsh or synthetic chemicals are likely to disrupt our natural state of equilibrium. Some chemicals found commonly in skincare and body care products are carcinogenic or disrupt our hormones (see a brief overview here: http://www.depthsofbeauty.com.au/makeup/2014/10/14/how-deep-does-it- go?rq=chemicals). That's why there is more awareness around SLS and parabens in our cosmetics. All of this is why Hau Botanicals doesn’t use any man-made chemicals.

We source all of our raw ingredients (shea butter, camellia oil, almond oil, Vitamin E, essential oils) from certified organic companies who have sustainable and/or regenerative business practises. These ingredients have been used for centuries around the world, to support skin health. So why re-invent the wheel? It seems a natural fit that we harness the healing properties of these ingredients, to compliment the potent healing properties of our native plants here in Aotearoa. I will delve more deeply into specific ingredients in future blog posts...

So how did all of this change my skin? By making the switch to natural, organic and non-toxic skincare, I noticed a huge improvement in my skin. I now see my skin as a “red flag” for stress, diet, poor sleep etc. It has changed my relationship with my skin, and I’m grateful for the warning (mostly!), and now turn to address the root cause of the breakout. Since creating the kanohi face oil a year ago, my skin texture is much more even, my scars have reduced, I have much fewer breakouts, and my skin is less oily. Despite using a face oil. Jojoba oil is actually a wax that is the same consistency as the sebum in your skin. So if you use this, your skin doesn’t start over-producing oil after you wash your face.

The kanohi face oil is quickly absorbed and I find I only need to use it once a day. When I do get pimples, I use the hauora healing balm, and it clears it up in a day or two. The kawakawa and mānuka in both products are anti-bacterial and antiseptic, so it's perfect if you have skin that is prone to acne. They also do wonders for dry skin. My sun and salt loving ways mean that my skin can take a bit of a hammering, even though I wear sunscreen. Putting the kanohi face oil on at night just helps to balance the impact of a day in the sun. And I wake up with such smooth skin! So, if you are also looking to switch to natural and organic skincare, I can’t recommend it enough!

Mauri ora,

Mahuru x

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