Miri Miri or Makoha - meaning natural gift - is the traditional holistic healing tradition or massage technique of the Maori, the indigenous people of Aotearoa/New Zealand. It is steeped in Maori customs and culture, encompassing whanau ora (family health), tinana ora (physical health), hinengaro ora (mental health) and wairua ora (spiritual health). Maoriculture is thought to originate from the Pacific Ocean, while the language has links to Tahitian and Hawaiian - and is closely associated and inspired by the natural world and its power. Miri miri is very much a holistic tradition, used for healing the physical and spiritual elements of a person’s life. This is in contrast to Western massage techniques which are primarily focused on the physical.
Miri miri massage and its techniques are very much part of traditional Maori culture, with the skills and necessary knowledge passed on by the elders to successive generations. Practitioners follow in the footsteps of their tipuna or ancestors, and are following in a tradition that dates back thousands of years - while evolving the technique to embrace the modern era.
Miri miri practitioner Elaine Denton, who is of Maori heritage and has been practicing for some 10 years, likes to emphasise the Maori link with the natural world - particularly the ocean, “As children we spend a lot of time learning about the ocean and the plants, our learning never ends and is continuous. Maori culture has a belief that we are spiritual beings with an ability to use the powers of nature to heal. We get our inspiration from nature, which gives us that spiritual intuition for miri miri healing.” Elaine also points out that although the culture has a strong warrior ethic and reputation; it is also renown for it gentleness and respect of other cultures. “I think balance and self respect are also very important elements of our culture – as well as pride.”
Miri miri / Makoha massage takes much of its inspiration from the natural elements, specifically:
A massage dance is preceded by a karakia (traditional prayer) and waiata (song) that will soothe and welcome your spirit. The actual massage is characterised by a technique that uses therapeutic rhythmic strokes inspired by the tempo of the ocean. Heated cloths that have been infused in traditional Maori herbs are also utilised, and are applied to the body - particularly the feet. Therapists will also use gentle breathe techniques, to transfer their energy to the client - for a balanced, soothing and deeply relaxing experience.
The primary benefits of miri miri massage are many and varied, and include: