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To understand and respect the importance of Rākau Māori - indigenous plants of Aotearoa is essential for fostering cultural appreciation, sustainable environmental practices - Kaitiakitanga, and the preservation of Māori knowledge and traditions - Matauranga Māori. Integrating this knowledge into broader conversations about conservation and biodiversity is crucial for a holistic approach to environmental management in Aotearoa.

The indigenous plants of Aotearoa, hold significant cultural importance and value in Te Ao Māori (the Māori world). Rākau Māori hold a crucial role in Tikanga and Kawa - Māori traditions, customs, and our everyday life. 


Key aspects of Rākau Māori :


Pikopiko , Pirongia West -Kāwhia


Whakapapa (Genealogy): Many indigenous plants in Aotearoa have deep connections to Māori whakapapa (genealogy). Māori believe that plants, like humans, have ancestors and a lineage. Understanding and respecting these connections are integral to our Māori spirituality.



Wairua: Spiritual Significance. Many native plants hold spiritual significance in Te Ao Māori. They are associated with the physical and spiritual connection and are often used in ceremonial contexts to connect with the spiritual realm.

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Mamaku, Kāwhia



Kaitiakitanga: Environmental Stewardship.  Māori have a strong connection to the land and a deep sense of responsibility as kaitiaki (guardians) of the environment. Indigenous plants are crucial to sustaining the ecosystems and natural balance, and Matauranga - Māori cultural values emphasize the importance of preserving and protecting the land to ensure the wellbeing of our people.


Angiangi, Pirongia Maunga - Kāwhia

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Korari, Harakeke - TePuti, Kāwhia


Tikanga and Kawa: Cultural Practices. Indigenous plants are deeply embedded in Māori cultural practices and rituals. For instance, the use of plants in Haka (traditional Māori dance) and Whaikōrero (speeches) connects Māori with the land and their ancestors, reinforcing a sense of identity and belonging. Significant practices which ensures the wellbeing of both the rākau and harvester.


Mingimingi, Aotea -Kāwhia

Mingimingi, Aotea -Kāwhia


Rongoā Māori: Traditional Medicine. Indigenous plants have been used for centuries by Māori as traditional medicine. The knowledge of plant properties and their applications has been passed down through generations. These plants are used for healing purposes, both physically and spiritually, and are an essential part of Māori holistic health practices.



Kai: Food Source.  Aotearoa's native flora, including various trees and plants, has been a traditional food source for Māori communities. For example, Kahikatea, Tōtara, and Rimu trees provided berries and seeds, while harakeke (flax) was used for weaving and its young shoots were eaten.


Mingimingi, prickly -Otorohanga


Kupenga Kete


Rakau Maori, or native trees and plants of Aotearoa, hold immense cultural significance and provide abundant materials for Toi Māori. From the strong and flexible harakeke leaves used for weaving intricate patterns in kete (baskets) and whariki (mats) to the durable timber of totara, rimu, and kauri used for carving elaborate designs in waka (canoes), pou (carved posts), and taonga (treasured objects), Rakau Maori offer a rich palette for artistic expression. The natural vibrant pigments derived from rākau like kōwhai and pōhutukawa bark are used to create natural dyes, infusing artworks with traditional colors and symbolism. Through the skillful manipulation of these natural materials, kaitoi continue to create stunning pieces that celebrate their cultural heritage and connection to the land.



Hauora: The ngahere, offers a sanctuary for our mental well-being. Its tranquil atmosphere and lush surroundings provide a natural antidote to the stresses of modern life. Spending time in the ngahere can soothe the mind, alleviate anxiety, and lift the spirits. The gentle rustle of leaves, the chirping of birds, and the earthy scent of the forest evoke a sense of calm and connection to the natural world. Whether taking a leisurely stroll among the trees or simply sitting in quiet contemplation, the ngahere offers a refuge where we can find solace, rejuvenation, and a renewed sense of inner peace.


Pikopiko, Māketu - Kāwhia

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