Mangeao often served a dark purpose in Māori culture. Those skilled in witchcraft would use twigs of Mangeao in their rituals, calling down evil spirits to curse their enemies. To lift the curse, a powerful healer was required to exorcise the demons and send them back into the Mangeao branches.
Despite its sometimes troubling use – Mangeao has proved itself an important and useful plant. It has a strong flexible timber that has been fashioned into violins, waka, wheels and railway carraiges. It was even used to construct the top floor of the Beehive – New Zealand’s parliamentary building.
Māori midwives used Mangeao to assist with childbirth. The pregnant mother was placed in a warm bath to which the leaves of Mangeao, Bush Lawyer and Tree fuschia were added. The vapours released were thought to help ease childbirth and the removal of the placenta.
Want to learn more about Mangeao?
New Zealand Plant Conservation Network
Ngā tipu whakaoranga database
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