Kānuka – Kunzea spp.

Kānuka has a tough time bursting through to the public spotlight. It’s often overshadowed by its cousin mānuka – stealing the limelight with headlines about its remarkable medicinal honey. But kānuka is an incredibly impressive plant in its own right that stands apart from its fellow tea-tree. While mānuka can be found in both New Zealand and Australia, our kānuka species are endemic to NZ and found … Continue reading Kānuka – Kunzea spp.

Mānuka – Leptospermum scoparium

Culture & History Despite being perhaps one of the more important native plants in New Zealand, for most of the 20th century mānuka was viewed as a noxious weed. Farmers especially loathed the plant, viewing it as a costly nuisance that prevented them from developing areas of hill country. When a black sooty mould fungus caused widespread devastation of mānuka it was seen as a cause for celebration and … Continue reading Mānuka – Leptospermum scoparium

Tōtara – Podocarpus totara

Tōtara is a forest giant, with a massive woody trunk that holds aloft thousands of sharp needle-like leaves. The name ‘tōtara’ is probably a reference to these spiky leaves, as the word tara in Māori means spike or thorn and is used for other spiky animals and plants.  Tōtara is covered in thick, stringy bark and can live for over 1000 years. It earned the … Continue reading Tōtara – Podocarpus totara

Pōhutukawa – Metrosideros excelsa

History & Culture Today, New Zealand’s plant life is widely admired and readily adopted as symbols of our identity and culture. But for many of the early European settlers first setting foot on New Zealand, the forest was viewed in a hostile, fearful manner.  Exchanging manicured fields and rolling pastures for a land covered in dense, rugged, unfamiliar forest; it is not surprising that many … Continue reading Pōhutukawa – Metrosideros excelsa

A Guide to New Zealand Plant Beers, Wines & Spirits

The history of brewing alcohol in New Zealand is relatively short. Māori were one of the few indigenous groups in the world that had no history of alcohol use – a title they share with they inuit of Canada and several Native american tribes. They got by fine by drinking plain water, occasionally garnished with fern fronds, or sweetened with flax nectar or sugar from … Continue reading A Guide to New Zealand Plant Beers, Wines & Spirits

Kūmarahou – Pomaderris kumeraho

For most of the year kūmarahou is a rather unremarkable looking plant, hiding in plain sight with its dull-green velvety leaves. In late spring however, the plant bursts forth with clusters of creamy-yellow flowers – colouring the landscape in sunny blossoms. For Māori this was the signal that it was time to plant kūmara. The English name – Gumdigger’s soap – comes from it’s use on the … Continue reading Kūmarahou – Pomaderris kumeraho

Kawakawa – Piper excelsum

For the early Polynesian explorers, the first glimpse of the New Zealand coastline must have been a staggering and bewildering sight. A vast, cold and mountainous landscape, populated with a bizarre assortment of plants unlike anything they had ever seen. In the midst of this unfamiliar forest, the heart-shaped leaves of Kawakawa would have been a welcome sight. The plant bears a striking resemblance to … Continue reading Kawakawa – Piper excelsum