The Suzanne Aubert Rongoā Garden was officially opened on the 25th of January, featuring traditional plants with healing properties that Meri Hōhepa Suzane Aubert used in the development of her medicinal products.

The ceremony was attended by Sisters Margaret Anne Mills, Sue Cosgrove, Josephine Gorman and Veronica Hurring, along with other members of the Compassion whānau, who were able to reconnect with old friends who have journeyed with this kaupapa over many years, following in the Rongoā footsteps of Meri Hōhepa.

The ‘Suzanne Aubert Native Plant Garden’ was established at Industrial Research Limited, Gracefield in Lower Hutt in June 2000, through a project led by Callaghan Innovation – Te Pokapū Auaha. While the facility is currently not open to the public due to security protocols, it is expected to be used as a source of cuttings for those who wish to start their own Rongoā Gardens in the future.

Rongoā refers to the traditional Māori healing system based on Te Whare Tapa Whā (the four pillars) of health: wairua (spiritual), tinana (physical), hinengaro (psychological) and whānau (family). Rongoā rākau (plant remedies) are an integral part of Rongoā Māori, with a wide variety of plants used to treat numerous conditions.

Meri Hōhepa Suzanne Aubert was a significant believer in and practitioner of Rongoā Māori in the late 1800s. Hence, the plants in this garden possess Rongoā properties.