Māori Plant Use

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Reference Details 

MAKERETI (Maggie Papakura) PENNIMAN T. K. ed. 1938. The Old-time Maori. London, Gollancz.
AUTHOR: MAKERETI (Maggie Papakura)
TITLE: The Old-time Maori
NOTES: Maggie Papakura wrote this account of traditional life of Māori before her sudden death in 1930. The work was to be presented for a degree at Oxford. Makereti, of Arawa descent, was a well-known guide at Whakarewarewa. Most of Makereti's comments on plant uses are included in other records in the infobase. Some observations are detailed below.
FOOD: 'The pakeha introduced the potato and a large kind of reddish sweet potato which the Māori called waina, and both of these roots were very much easier to work with than the kūmara of the old days. This was why the large kūmara cultivations were neglected, for the new foods took the place of the old. Some old varieties: toromahoe, kokorangi, matakauri, moio, kirikaraka, kawakawa, papahaua, taratamata, pokerekahu and very many others of which a few are still planted in many parts of the island in a small way. But for the most part they have disappeared.' Makereti states that was many years before potatoes were introduced to her area. Her uncle said that potato took the place of fernroot. Places where large cultivations of potatoes were grown are listed by the author.
DOMESTIC: Fire making. Māhoe used as the lower stick (kauahi). Sometimes patē was used, but māhoe preferred. Kaikomako was used as te hika, the rubbing stick. The burning dust was sometimes put into a dry branch of mānuka, which was waved gently from side to side till the fire flared up. Oil with a flax fibre wick was used for lighting in whare.
FISHING AND HUNTING: Fishing is described in detail. There is a good description of netmaking. 'When a new net was to be made, an expert would go to the place where the harakeke.. grew and would pull out two young leaves from the root part in the middle.' If a tioro i.e. screeching sound was made, good omen for new net. Rito leaves taken to tuahu, (sacred place of the kainga), and left there.
Floats made of whau (Entelea arborescens).
The ropes along the top and bottom of net (kaharunga and kahararo) plaited from whanake (Cordyline).
Fishing lines made from flax fibre. Very strong. Could carry hooks able to carry very large fish such as manga (barracouta) and hapuku (groper).
'In my district mānuka grew near Lakes Rotoiti and Rotorua, and this became quite famous for making hooks. People came from the coast on purpose to get these mānuka sticks, which the prevailing winds had blown almost into the shape of fish hooks.'
Tawhai (beech) often used for making hooks.
Section on freshwater fishing, bird snaring.
LINK WORDS: Ipomoea, kūmara cultivar, Melicytus, potato, harakeke, food, medicinal, Leptospermum, Phormium, tī, flax fibre, Solanum, Pennantia, traditions, Schefflera