Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

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Myrsine australis. Māpou.
FAMILY: Myrsinaceae Myrsine family
BOTANICAL NAME: Myrsine australis
PREVIOUS NAMES: Myrsine urvillei; Suttonia australis; Myrsine urvilliae (in Taylor 1855)
MĀORI NAME: MĀPOU, māpau (Best 1908, State Conservator of Forests 1877), tīpau (Ngāpuhi - Taylor 1855), matipou, tāpau, takapou, mataira (Chatham Islands - Beever 1991), māpua (Best 1929, but likely to be a spelling error), teateahenga (Te Rangi Hiroa 1949)
COMMON NAME: red matipo
MEDICINAL: Used for toothache and for cleaning teeth (Collier 1959).
Leaves boiled and infusion used for toothache (H. Honana 1941).

Further notes on chemistry and related pharmacology in Brooker, Cambie and Cooper 1987. See also Riley 1994.
DOMESTIC: Wood resembles beech. Used for chairmaking, carpenters' tools, walking sticks etc. (Colenso 1869a). (N.B. Details on colonial timber uses generally not part of this database).
Wallace 1989 found 2 fernroot beaters, 8 adze sockets, 13 kō and 6 teka made of Myrsine sp. (probably māpou) among museum artefacts he tested.
FISHING AND HUNTING: Used on Chatham Islands to make keels of waka pahi. (Best 1925, Shand 1911).
A straight piece of māpou (or toro) was used to make the lower piece of the handle of a bag net by the Rororua Māori. The māpou is very springy and will not break or snap (Te Rangi Hiroa 1921)
CHEMISTRY: Chemical compounds described in Briggs et al 1967).
Further notes on chemistry in Brooker, Cambie and Cooper 1987.
TRADITIONS: Branches used in ceremonies. E.g. baptism (Best 1929, 1942).
The Horouta brought a mapau named Ateateahenga to be used in planting ceremonies for kūmara (Turei 1912, Te Rangi Hiroa 1949).
That tree was left at Waiapu (Turei 1912, p.161)
A green branch of māpou used as a mauri in kūmara plantations (Makereti 1938)