Indigenous | Rua Bioscience

Magic mushrooms trialled as rongoa

An East Coast marae is growing indigenous magic mushrooms to treat addiction and mental health issues in Te Tairāwhiti.

Rangiwaho marae and a listed cannabis research company, Rua Bioscience, obtained a licence last year to cultivate the indigenous fungi, Psilocybe Weraroa.

Two years ago the marae was approached by scientists to take part in clinical trials using the fungi.

Naomi Gerald is part of the team at Rua Bioscience cultivating the fungi and she said they viewed the fungi as taonga rather than ‘magic mushrooms’.

“From a tikanga perspective they are taonga and they’re very much our tuākana ,so we don’t want to mess about with that, and we believe if you look at fungi in general in terms of gut health [there are] therapeutic benefits in using the entire fungi.

“The end game is to steer away from sort of dissecting and pulling out certain chemical compounds and only using that and then discarding the rest.”

Reclaiming matauranga

She said they saw the taonga as rongoa [medicine] when treated the right way.

“It’s in line with reclaiming a lot of our own matauranga that’s been lost over the generations and as we ruku [dive] a bit deeper into that. At the end of the day we’re dealing with taonga, and it needs to be treated as such.

“[We’re] ust testing chemical compositions of the different fungi that we’re growing and trying to get some consistency from what we’re growing.”

Rangiwaho Marae Trustee Kay Robin says the fungi will used for medicinal purposes and not for recreational use.

“With the Psilocybin [and] psychedelics, they’ve all had similar results. They’ve been good for trauma, depression, anxiety, addictions. it’s really amazing stuff. Any studies on this, they’ve all had similar effects.”

Psilocybin research has shown that it can treat various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety and addictions.

The cultivation site is in Ruatoria.

Te Rito