Indigenous Fragrances

Ngāi Tahu have a culture of perfume making dating back over 200 years…

“Taku hei piripiri
Taku hei mokimoki
Taku hei tāwhiri
Taku kati taramea

Adorned with richly perfumed moss,
Festooned with sweet smelling fern,
Embellished with aromatic sap,
My fragrant locket of evocative piercing Taramea

A precious scent was made from resin extracted from a plant found high in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. The plant was named Taramea.

Taramea leaves were gathered, plaited and heated to extract the resin. Fragrant sachets of oil were created by mixing the resin with animal fat. The perfumed oil produced in this way was highly valued and was used for trade for food, greenstone, and as gifts between chiefs.

Taramea (Aciphylla species) is a taonga species to Ngāi Tahu and is listed in the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998. The listing legally asserts Ngāi Tahu’s relationship with, and cultural, significance of, this plant.

The aim of the project is to reinvigorate the Ngāi Tahu cultural practice of perfume-making and investigate contemporary commercial opportunities with taramea while retaining cultural authenticity for Ngāi Tahu whānau, hapū and iwi members.

This project began three years ago and has been driven by lead rūnanga Kati Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketerakiwith support from Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu (TRoNT) .

Research Phase

Over the last three years, with funding from the Sustainable Farming Fund we have undertaken research to better understand Taramea, it’s growing conditions and the chemical profile of the plants across various geographical locations. From the research phase we have learnt:

Product Development Phase

With the end of the research phase, we are now progressing the project through to a product development phase. We will focus on ensuring a strong brand is built alongside a product range that will be competitive on the global market. Work is also underway to identify potential collaborators in the commercialisation of Taramea.


Te Waipounamu High Country


Robin MacIntosh

Lead organisation

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

Lead rūnanga

Kati Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki

Partners & Collaborators

Taramea Limited
Plant and Food Research
The Agribusiness Group
Callaghan Innovation
Perfumers and industry


MPI Sustainable Farming Fund
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu


Further Information

Aciphylla Factsheet