Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

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Cortaderia spp. Toetoe.
FAMILY: Poaceae Grass family
BOTANICAL NAME: Cortaderia spp. (Cortaderia fulvida, Cortaderia splendens, Cortaderia richardii, Cortaderia toetoe)
PREVIOUS NAMES: Arundo kakaho; Arundo conspicua
MĀORI NAME: TOETOE, toetoe-kākaho, toetoe-mokoro, kaho, toetoe-rākau,
culm: kākaho; pukakaho (Beattie); kākaho-matariki (best culms for house lining), kākaho-puha (crooked, inferior culms).
COMMON NAME: toetoe; toitoi
FOOD: Used in process of making bread from raupō pollen (Taylor 1855).
''On its branches [tawhero tree, Weinmannia silvicola] would hang two, three, or four tukohu of different sizes, used for cooking food in the boiling or steam holes. These were made of toetoe, pampas grass, plaited by the women. Flax was not used because it gives a taste to the food.'' (Makereti 1938).
Tūkohu are cylindrical baskets used for cooking food in hot springs (or for holding food to steep in water [Ed.]
DOMESTIC: Sometimes used for making mats and baskets. Leaves strewn round sitting and sleeping places (Colenso 1869a)
CONSTRUCTION: '.. it is used to line their houses with, and looks extremely neat.' (Taylor 1855)
House battens. This handsome reed used along with nīkau fronds for the inner works of roofs, sides and partitions etc. (Colenso 1869a).
Used for walls of kūmara storage houses (Colenso 1881).
In Murihiku, meeting houses covered with pukākaho reeds, then thatched with tussock (pātītī). (Beattie 1994)
Used for lining roof and walls of raised storage houses (Best 1916).
Kākaho-matariki, best culms for house-lining. Kākaho-pūhā, somewhat crooked, inferior culms. Rake kākaho, a large number of the better, straight culms. Toetoe-kākaho, not very good thatch, but used for huts. Rush (wīwī) more durable (Best 1908).
Kākaho reeds were cut at certain seasons. 'Much time and trouble was spent in finding kākaho of a light instead of a deep yellow colour, and in getting long lengths of the same thickness. The kākaho preferred grew in the forest. (Makereti 1938)
FISHING AND HUNTING: Culms used as arrows, with heads of katara, the hard black substance found in trunks of tree ferns (Tuta Nihoniho, Ngati Porou, in Best 1925)
CHEMISTRY: Chemical compounds in leaves, leaf wax listed in Cambie 1988, with references.
PASTIME: Stalks used for spears in games. Culms used for kite making (Best 1925)
SCENT: Used in recipe for scent. See Aciphylla (Brett's Guide 1883).
TRADITIONS: Used ceremonially on sea voyages, on reaching land (Best 1925).
PROVERBS: 'He taanga kākaho ka kitea e te kanohi; tena ko te taanga ngakau ekore e kitea. A mark, or knot.., of a reed can be seen with the eye, but that of the heart can not be seen.' A similar proverb is also given. (Colenso 1880: 129)