Te harakeke The flax
Te korari The flower
Nga taonga whakarere iho treasures left down here
O te rangi of the sky
O te whenua of the land
O nga tupuna of our ancestors
Homai he oranga mo matou give wellness for us
Tihei mauri ora tis the sneeze of life
Harakeke was later recognised by European settlers for its superior value as a fibre. The hardy harakeke plant was incorrectly labelled ‘flax’ by the newcomers. Flax mills extracted the fibre for export overseas in what became a very lucrative market.
HARAKEKE HISTORY & USES
Harakeke was and still is a prized and important resource of our Maori Culture.
It is used for many purposes including clothing, cooking, kai kete and kete/food gathering, traditional costumes, whariki/mat, wahakura/pepi pod, rongoa/medicine and many other everyday functional uses. Woven garments incorporating harakeke were worn by both men and women and their ranking would be represented through most of their traditional garments by its elegance, resources and patterns. The harakeke fibre was used for ropes, fishing lines and net making. The plants nectar was used as a sweetener, the dried flower stalks were lashed together to make mokihi/rafts, and the pia/gum and boiled roots were used for rongoa/medicinal purposes.
There are so many uses of harakeke, moving through to modern times, Māori weaving has become more contemporary than traditional. Meaning that our taonga are used more for art purposes than functional purposes. Harakeke is certainly a way of life which brings many benefits to our way of life and our wellbeing.