He Aitaka a Tāne


He Aitaka a Tāne
Mānia – Hardy sedge makes a soft, warm bed

Mānia is a densely-tufted, hardy, grass-like sedge that historical records suggest was mainly used for bedding and waist belts by Ngāi Tahu. Botanical references describe it as a very distinctive ornamental grass with colours ranging from shiny to dark green to yellow/green, red/green, bronze, and various shades of brown or golden brown, depending on the source.

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Pātōtara – The perfect sweet treat

There are not that many native New Zealand plants that produce a sweet and tasty fruit that you can pick and eat straight off the plant.
Pātōtara, a prickly low-growing shrub, is one of the few. Its juicy yellow/orange berries that ripen in summer and early autumn were once a popular sweet treat for Māori and Pākehā children, in the days before they could buy confectionery from the corner dairy.

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Korokio – As tough as wire-netting

In Māori tradition, the leaves of either korokio or karamū were used in a ceremony to lift the tapu from foods. The hard wiry wood from its intertwined branches was fashioned into fish hooks, and also made into knives to pierce the skin in treating battle wounds or injuries.

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Wharariki easily mistaken for versatile cousin

Although they are widely known as flaxes, wharariki and harakeke are actually lilies. The two species are usually found in different environments, but do cross-breed and hybridise. Horticulturists have bred many coloured ornamental forms that are widely used in landscaping, and some well-known cultivars used by weavers are hybrids.

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Tussocks offer unlikely shelter in a storm

Before human settlement of Aotearoa, the dominant cover of higher alpine grasslands was large snow tussocks of the Chionochloa family. At lower altitudes, sub-alpine grasslands were primarily dominated by short or low tussocks (less than 50 cm), including a taonga species for Ngāi Tahu – silver tussock (Poa cita) – and hard tussock (Festuca novae-zelandiae).

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The binding powers of Akatorotoro are easily overlooked

Akatorotoro is a Ngāi Tahu taonga plant that is easily overlooked in the bush, because of its habit of clambering all over its neighbours on its climb into the forest canopy.

Its thin young vines, when green and pliable, are strong and extremely durable, a primary natural resource used by Māori for all manner of lashings and bindings. Sometimes vines were selected, trimmed, and steamed in an umu to make them more pliable, as the lashings dried hard and rigid.

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Sniffing out toatoa

nā Rob Tipa The most distinctive feature of toatoa is the fact that it has no true leaves. Instead this shrub or small forest tree has flattened leathery branchlets that look more like the leaves of celery – hardly a feature befitting a member of the chiefly podocarp family. Three species of this ancient genus…

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Tētēaweka prefers life on the wild side

Plants nā Rob Tipa Roaring Forties gales blast through the turbulenttidal shallows of Foveaux Strait, which separates Te Waipounamu from Rakiura. This is no place for the faint-hearted, and that goes for plants as much as the hardy southern souls who live and work here. The salt spray and frequent westerly gales are fierce enough…

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