Mangemange – Lygodium articulatum

At first glance the thin wiry stems of Mangemange look easy to break, but they are actually incredibly strong. Many trampers find themselves strung up by the plant, struggling in vain to break free. Māori believed these tough wiry stems were so durable they could last a hundred years, and found a number of ingenious uses for them. Mangemange stems were made into rope, thatching, fish … Continue reading Mangemange – Lygodium articulatum

Hangehange – Geniostoma ligustrifolium

The shiny lettuce green leaves of Hangehange are a common sight in New Zealand forests and bush fragments. These soft fleshy leaves can be distinguished from other plants by a distinctive “drip tip”, an elongated point at the end of the leaf that allows rain to run off. Hangehange leaves were used as a flavouring in Māori cuisine. The roots of kumara and cabbage tree … Continue reading Hangehange – Geniostoma ligustrifolium

Kahakaha – Astelia hastatum

Kahakaha or Perching Lily is an epiphytic plant found nesting in the canopy. In some places it grows so densely that it forms an aerial garden, suspended amongst the tree tops. Early European bushmen called the plant Widow Maker as the plants often fell to the ground when they were milling native timber. Sometimes the weight of the plants could snap branches, threatening to crush unsuspecting victims below. The … Continue reading Kahakaha – Astelia hastatum

Tree Fuchsia – Fuchsia excorticata

When it comes to New Zealand’s native plants, Tree Fuschia is something of a botanical oddball. Most native plants produce small inconspicuous flowers, whereas Fuschia erupts with a dazzling display of purple flowers with bizarre blue pollen. Most native plants will keep their leaves year round, but Tree Fuschia not only drops its leaves but sheds its bark as well, leaving a skeleton of ragged branches. Its … Continue reading Tree Fuchsia – Fuchsia excorticata

Tawa – Beilschimedia tawa

History & Culture The long willow-like branches of Tawa have stolen the lives of many Kererū in their time. Māori hunters would climb great trees, carrying with them immense Tawa lances – sometimes greater than 10 metres long. Slowly, carefully, they would inch the lances closer and closer to their prey until at the final moment they would the thrust them through the heart of … Continue reading Tawa – Beilschimedia tawa

Kiekie – Freycinetia banksii

  History & Culture In Māori tradition, Kiekie and Harakeke are regarded as long lost brothers. Harakeke left home to live with Wainui – the mother of waters – while Kiekie stayed with Tāne – the Lord of the forest – piggy-backing on his shoulders wherever he went. Today, this is where you will most commonly find Kiekie, suspended among the canopy of our mightiest trees. … Continue reading Kiekie – Freycinetia banksii

Karaka – Corynocarpus laevigatus

Culture & History The most striking feature of the Karaka tree are it’s large orange berries; and the word Karaka in Māori means “to be orange”. The raw kernels of these berries carry the toxin Karakin, which is highly poisonous. Humans who consume the kernels convulse in violent spasms that leave them physically distorted and paralyzed. Māori treatment for Karaka poisoning was to gag the … Continue reading Karaka – Corynocarpus laevigatus

Kōwhai – Sophora spp.

Culture & History The typical native flower is pale, white and inconspicuous. Little wonder then, that the flashy yellow blooms of the Kōwhai have become ingrained in the New Zealand consciousness. They hold unofficial status as our national flower, are a common icon of artwork and nationhood, and depictions of Kōwhai have been used on postage stamps and coins. Kōwhai is the Māori word for yellow, and … Continue reading Kōwhai – Sophora spp.

A Land Without Teeth

  The Death of the Dinosaurs When New Zealand first began to rift away from Gondwana, dinosaurs still walked amongst the shade of giant conifers, the ocean was ruled by vicious marine reptiles and the skies were dominated by flying pterosaurs. But around 65 million years ago a meteorite roughly 10 kilometres wide crashed into the Yucatan peninsula. The shockwave, the ensuing tsunamis and firestorms, … Continue reading A Land Without Teeth