Māori Plant Use

   Skip Navigation Links
Copyright © 2019

Plant Use Details 

Dodonaea viscosa. Akeake. Main reference.
FAMILY: Sapindaceae Soap-berry family
BOTANICAL NAME: Dodonaea viscosa
PREVIOUS NAMES: Dodonea spathulata
MĀORI NAME: AKEAKE, akerautangi, ake; ramarama (?? Best - Tuhoe name. See note in Pastimes)
MEDICINAL: Juice rich in tannin - applied as a styptic (Faulkner 1958)
Used medicinally in many countries - externally for burns and scalds, internally to reduce fever. Leaves chewed for toothache. Used in Peru in the same way as coca leaves. Used elsewhere for a number of diseases (Brooker, Cambie and Cooper 1987).
See Riley 1994 for information on medicinal uses of related plants elsewhere in the world.
DOMESTIC: Used as hardwood for war implements, carved walking staves (Taylor 1855; Colenso 1869a, 1869b; Best 1908)
The heaviest of New Zealand woods. Sheaves, axe-handles, etc. (Colenso 1869a).
Digging spades (Colenso 1882a ; Best 1925)
Weights on drill shafts sometimes made of heavy hard wood, such as ake or maire. Te Whatahoro in Best 1912.
Among museum artefacts he tested Wallace 1989 found 4 weapons and a hoto made of akeake
CONSTRUCTION: Used for beams in storage houses (Best 1916).
FISHING AND HUNTING: Used on Chatham Islands for constructing stern-pieces of waka pahi (Best 1925).
CHEMISTRY: Compounds isolated from the leaves, seeds, flowers and fruit listed in Cambie 1976 with references.
ENVIRONMENT: Excellent shelter tree on coasts (Kirk 1889).

Grove of ake trees near Te Onepu, on the Whirinaki, known as Te Hokowhitu a Ngai-Tawha (Best 1908).
PASTIME: Possibly the 'Olearia' termed ramarama by Tūhoe, and used for making certain toys, such as tops and kororohu. Thought to make more sound than most other woods (Best 1908 p.221)
SCENT: Leaves used for scent (Best 1942).
See passage in White 1887, vol iv, p.115. One of the ingredients listed in the passage concerning a preparation of scented oils is akerautangi. Beattie 1920 refers to scent of ake-rautaki in relation to Takitimu Mountains - but D.viscosa doesn't grow there.