Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

Metrosideros fulgens. Akakura. Rātā vine.
FAMILY: Myrtaceae Myrtle family
BOTANICAL NAME: Metrosideros fulgens
PREVIOUS NAMES: Metrosideros florida; Metrosideros scandens
MĀORI NAME: RĀTĀ, rātāpiki, akakura, aka, puatawhiwhi, akatawhiwhi, kāhikahika, amaru, whakatangitangi,
Flowers: puatawhiwhi, whakatangitangi, whakapiopio
Bloom of the rata, or tree when in bloom: kahika
COMMON NAME: rātā vine
NOTES: [In the Taupo district] ''Mr J. B. Lee obtained the Native name of amaru for a similar plant'' [to red-flowered mistletoe]. (Best 1908)
MEDICINAL: Sap used as styptic. 'A native first procures the young shoots [creepers?] - about an inch in diameter and six inches long - and places one end of the shoot opposite the wound to be operated on ; the other he places close to his mouth, so that by blowing he can eject the fluid juice of the shoots on to the wound. I have seen very serious arterial bleeding stopped by this means, the juice of the Aka being very rich in tannin.' (O'Carroll 1884)
Juice- cough mixture, paua shell full 3x a day. (O'Carroll 1884).
Sap used for watery, inflamed eyes by Tūhoe (Goldie 1905, Best 1906).
Inner bark from eastern side of tree used to heal sores and stop bleeding. Bark boiled with rimu and kauri, lotion used for sore backs of horses. (Laing and Blackwell 1906, revised 1964).
Bark steeped in water, lotion used for ringworm (Faulkner 1958).
Sap from short lengths of vine blown on wounds (Adams 1945).
Bark contains ellagic acid, used as an astringent in dysentery and diarrhoea. One Māori told me of a poisoned knee cured by this and karamū (though karamū seemed to feature most in the ceremonial part of the cure). Another told me a poisoned hand cured by aka. They seemed to me to regard it as highly as they do kūmarahou. Used by bushmen as an antiseptic, and for a refreshing drink (K. Pickmere 1940) For 'Māori sickness'. Scrape off and throw away the rough outer bark. Boil about a pint of water. Put the inner bark into boiling water. Keep boiling for about 20 minutes. Take a pint twice a day. Don't drink cold water for some time after taking. The longer it stands, the more poisonous it becomes. It eases pain and stops the 'sickness'. (P. Smith 1940)

See Riley 1994 for information on medicinal uses of related plants elsewhere in the world.
FOOD: Bushmen quench thirst with juice; vine is cut and left hanging - yields large quantity of juice 'of a clear bright pinkish hue - tasted somewhat like dry cider' (Laing and Blackwell 1906).
Astringent juice used as a beverage (Baber 1887 ; K. Pickmere 1940).
DOMESTIC: Vine used as flywheel on cord drill - Ngāti Porou (Williams, in Best 1912, p.84).
Used for binding adze handles (Numia Kereru, Tūhoe, in Best 1912).
CONSTRUCTION: Hardest NZ wood, called the NZ lignum vitae (Taylor)
Used extensively, along with kareao, for tying up fences, platforms, and the heavy framework of houses.
Used principally for boat timbers (Colenso 1869a ; Taylor 1855) (N.B. Details on post-European timber uses generally not recorded in database)
CHEMISTRY: Essential oils listed in Gardner 1931.
Other compounds listed in Cambie 1976, 1988 with references. Bark contains ellagic acid, used as an astringent in dysentery and diarrhoea.