Māori Plant Use

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Reference Details 

O'DONNELL E. 1929. Te Hekenga. Early days in Horowhenua. Being the reminiscences of Mr Rod McDonald. Palmerston North, New Zealand, G. H. Bennett.
TITLE: Te Hekenga. Early days in Horowhenua. Being the reminiscences of Mr Rod McDonald
PUBLISHER: G. H. Bennett
NOTES: In 1832, Hector McDonald became the first white settler on the Horowhenua coast. His son Rod McDonald was born in the 1860s. He spoke Māori fluently. His informants were the Muaupoko, who lived around Horowhenua Lake. Chapters include bird-snaring, the eel, fish lore, Māori diet, early epidemic diseases. p.40 Discusses wearing of rapaki, coarsely dressed flax. p.57 description of kaanga-pirau, fermented corn. '... a diet of it brings boils out all over the indiscreet gourmand' p.58 kotero - potatoes soaked till turn black. Skin rubbed off, then mashed, cake made which was baked in ashes. Could be kept a long time, favoured for journeys. p.58 description of tāwhara, kiekie bracts. 'The flavour of the tāwhara is rathed (sic) peculiar, and to the uncultivated palate slightly insipid. In a well-ripened specimen it is something like a soft-flavoured apple, with a suggestion of pear-flavouring, and decidely pleasant. Because of the absence of tartness many pakehas do not care for it, but in the estimation of the Māori it has no peer. A liking for the tāwhara is to a certain extent a cultivated taste, but once acquired, it has a charm of its own and one ceases from comparisons' McDonald (p.59) also discusses the careful preservation of bush containing valued kiekie, with local Māori travelling long distances for firewood. Bush made tapu when tāwhara nearly ripe. Tribe would gather there when crop at its best. p.60 McDonald discusses gathering of wai-kōrari, flax nectar. Says the level of nectar in coastal plants varies according to the tides. (Disputed by Brockie 1996) pp.93-94 McDonald describes an outbreak of scrofula. The neck glands would swell, and sometimes the swelling would spread to the lymph glands under the arm, when it was always fatal. McDonald's mother found it could be cured with by painting with iodine.
LINK WORDS: food, medicinal, Phormium, Solanum, Zea mays, Freycinetia