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The native medicinal plants -  Rongoā Rākau of Aotearoa,  have been traditionally used by Māori for their healing properties. These plants hold cultural significance and are part of a holistic approach to health and well-being and every life. Some notable examples include kawakawa, used for its anti-inflammatory properties; harakeke (flax), employed for wound healing and weaving; and kūmarahou, known for its respiratory benefits. The use of these plants is deeply rooted in Māori traditions, reflecting a profound connection to the land and a holistic understanding of Hauora - health that encompasses physical, spiritual, and environmental elements. The knowledge of these medicinal plants is passed down through generations, contributing to the rich tapestry of Māori culture and heritage.

Harakeke, also known as New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax), is a versatile native plant with various purposes in Te Ao Māori. Harakeke's multifaceted uses highlight its importance in Māori culture, where it is not only a practical resource but also a symbol of cultural identity and connection to the land. The sustainable harvesting and use of harakeke contribute to the preservation of traditional knowledge and the ongoing practice of Māori weaving arts. Harakeke is our most utilised resource providing us with so many qualities that no other plant can. We need to gather kai we make kete, we need medicine we utilise the gel extract or the roots, we need kai we eat the seeds or pollen, we need shelter we use the stalks, we need clothing and rope we use the fibre.  Harakeke is our most precious resource for Māori. These are only some of many uses.

From FIBRE, SEEDS, FLOWERS, STALKS, LEAVES, GEL EXTRACT, LEAVES AND ROOTS! Harakeke is our plant which the entire plant can be utilised.




Harakeke base, Aotea - Kāwhia


Kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum) is a native New Zealand plant with significant cultural, traditional, and medicinal importance. Kawakawa is considered a sacred plant in Māori culture. It is often associated with healing and protection and has spiritual significance. Kawakawa's multifaceted uses showcase its versatility in Māori culture, from its role in traditional healing practices to its symbolic importance in various aspects of daily life. The plant continues to be valued for its cultural significance and its contributions to both traditional and modern forms of medicine. Kawakawa was used for many rituals in regards to the spiritual realm, wreaths were made as a sign of mourning and it was also used for spiritual healing.


Kawakawa, Maketu - Kāwhia


Kumarahou (Pomaderris kumeraho) is a native  plant with both medicinal properties and cultural significance. Use in traditional healing practices and cultural rituals reflects the Māori worldview, emphasizing the interconnectedness of people with the natural environment. The plant is a reminder of the importance of maintaining balance and harmony with nature.

Kumarahou is a plant in Aotearoa with both medicinal and cultural significance. Its traditional use in treating respiratory conditions and its role in cultural practices highlight its importance in Māori communities, showcasing the integration of traditional knowledge and like all our native plants, a deep connection to the natural environment.



Kumarahou, Maketu - Kāwhia

Horopito, Maketu - Kāwhia

Horopito (Pseudowintera colorata) is a native Aotearoa plant known for its distinctive peppery leaves and has both medicinal and traditional uses.

 The leaves of the horopito plant contain bioactive compounds, including polygodial, which is known for its antimicrobial properties. Traditionally, Māori have used horopito leaves for their medicinal benefits, particularly in treating various ailments such as fungal infections, skin conditions, and digestive issues. The antimicrobial properties make horopito a valuable plant for supporting overall health.

Horopito is a notable plant in Aotearoa with a history of traditional use in Māori medicine and a unique peppery flavor that contributes to its cultural and culinary significance. Its medicinal properties make it a valuable resource for supporting health and well-being in traditional Māori practices.



Mamaku (Cyathea medullaris), also known as the black tree fern, is a native Aotearoa fern with cultural significance and historical uses. Mamaku has been traditionally used by the Māori for its medicinal properties. The inner part of the fern's trunk, known as the koru, contains a mucilaginous substance that was used topically to soothe and heal wounds, burns, and skin irritations. The mucilage was also believed to have a cooling effect. Its unique characteristics, including the koru shape, make it a symbol of cultural identity and natural beauty in Māori traditions. Conservation efforts are essential to preserve Mamaku populations and protect its cultural and ecological significance. The fronds may used in traditional ceremonies or rituals, symbolizing growth, renewal, and connection to the land. The koru symbolizes new life, growth, and continuity. Mamaku was also used for women in regards to healing after childbirth. Known for her part in nature as a healer and restorer of the land, she will grow on the edge of slips or cliffs to keep the land restored.


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Mamaku, Mt. Pirongia - Kāwhia

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Manuka Flowers,Maketu -  Kāwhia


Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) and Kanuka (Kunzea ericoides) are two native Aotearoa plants that are well-known for their medicinal properties and traditional uses. Manuka is perhaps most famous for its honey, which is known for its unique antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. 

Māori have a long history of using various parts of the Manuka plant for medicinal purposes. Infusions made from the leaves were used to treat colds, fevers, and urinary problems. The bark was employed for its astringent properties, and the essential oil extracted from the leaves had applications in traditional Māori medicine. Manuka holds cultural significance for Māori beyond its medicinal properties. The wood of the Manuka tree was used in carving, and the plant itself plays a role in Māori mythology and spiritual practices. Māori used Kanuka in a manner similar to Manuka for various ailments. Kanuka, like Manuka, has cultural significance in Māori traditions. It is considered a taonga (treasure) and has been used for practical purposes such as tool construction and fuel, showcasing the diverse uses of the plant in Māori daily life. Beyond their medicinal uses, these plants have cultural importance, reflecting the deep connection between the Māori people and the native flora of Aotearoa.

Pōhutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) is a native New Zealand tree known for its striking crimson flowers and coastal habitat. Pōhutukawa has been utilized in traditional Māori medicine for various purposes. The bark of the tree was sometimes used in infusions or decoctions to treat ailments such as diarrhea, dysentery, and stomach complaints. Additionally, the sap or gum from the tree was used topically for wounds or skin conditions and the flowers are used as a sweetner or a drink. Pōhutukawa holds significant cultural importance for Māori. Often referred to as the "New Zealand Christmas Tree," its vibrant red flowers bloom during the Southern Hemisphere's summer, coinciding with the holiday season. Pōhutukawa trees are also seen as landmarks and symbols of resilience and strength. Beyond its cultural significance, Pohutukawa plays a crucial ecological role in New Zealand's coastal ecosystems. Its extensive root system helps stabilize coastal areas, preventing erosion and providing habitat for native fauna.



Pohutukawa, Maketu - Kāwhia


Koromiko, Maketu - Kāwhia

Koromiko (Hebe stricta) is a native New Zealand shrub known for its traditional medicinal uses in Māori culture and has a long history of use in traditional Māori medicine, known as rongoā. The leaves of the koromiko plant were traditionally used to treat various ailments, particularly gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, dysentery, and stomach cramps. The leaves were often prepared as infusions or decoctions for internal use.Koromiko contains bioactive compounds with antibacterial properties, making it effective in combating infections. The plant's medicinal properties were valued for their ability to alleviate symptoms and support healing.  While koromiko has been historically important in Māori medicine, like many native plants, its populations face threats from habitat loss, invasive species, and other environmental pressures. Efforts to conserve and protect koromiko are essential to ensure its availability for future generations and to preserve traditional knowledge of its medicinal uses.




Kōwhai (Sophora species) is a native New Zealand tree known for its vibrant yellow flowers and traditional medicinal uses in Māori culture and  has been utilized in traditional Māori medicine for various purposes. The bark, leaves, and flowers of the kowhai tree were traditionally used to treat a range of ailments. Infusions or decoctions made from the bark or leaves were used internally to address conditions such as fevers, inflammation, and pain. Additionally, kowhai was used topically for skin conditions and wounds. Kowhai contains bioactive compounds with antimicrobial properties, which contribute to its traditional medicinal efficacy. These properties were valued for their ability to combat infections and support. Kōwhai populations face threats from habitat loss, pests, and other environmental pressures. Efforts to conserve and protect kowhai are essential to ensure its availability for future generations and to preserve traditional knowledge of its medicinal uses. Kōwhai are an important food source for our native manu and bees and are decreasing in areas which they once flourished.

Be sure to remember that Kōwhai are regarded as poisonous when consumed and should only be used externally, always wash your hands immediately after contact or harvesting any parts of the tree.


Kōwhai Flowers,Maketu -  Kāwhia


Poroporo - Kāwhia

The Poroporo plant (Solanum laciniatum and S. aviculare) holds significance in traditional Māori medicine, where it was employed as a medicinal remedy. Māori women utilized the leaves and fruits of Poroporo as a contraceptive aid by boiling them into a broth consumed approximately a week before menstruation. While its efficacy as a contraceptive method is not fully known, poroporo was valued for its potential in regulating fertility. Additionally, poroporo possesses medicinal properties attributed to its alkaloids, which have been explored for their potential in alleviating rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and serving as a source for steroid hormones for birth control. Despite its toxicity when unripe, the ripe fruit of poroporo is edible and has been consumed by Māori communities after careful preparation.



Houhere, also known as the New Zealand lacebark (Hoheria species), holds a significant place in Māori traditional medicine due to its various medicinal properties. Māori utilized different parts of the houhere plant for therapeutic purposes. The inner bark was often used as a poultice to treat wounds, boils, and skin irritations, valued for its soothing and healing properties. Additionally, preparations made from houhere leaves were used to alleviate coughs, colds, and respiratory ailments, believed to have expectorant and anti-inflammatory effects. The infusion of houhere bark and leaves was also consumed internally to aid in digestive issues and to promote general well-being. Houhere's versatility in addressing a range of health concerns made it a valued plant in Māori traditional medicine, reflecting the deep knowledge of indigenous healing practices. Lacebark refers to its layering lace like bark and was used like a bandage also. 



Houhere - Otorohanga

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