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A Leaf from the Natural History of New Zealand

A List of Some of the Vegetable Productions of New Zealand, Available as Food for Man

A List of Some of the Vegetable Productions of New Zealand, Available as Food for Man.


Nat. Ord. Cruciferæ; Cress Fam.; Genus Cardamine.


Panapana, small cress, growing abundantly in most damp, shady places; it has a diminutive white flower; the leaf, in taste, resembles the common cress.


Hanea, larger kind; an aquatic species, found by the side of rivers; it bears a yellow flower, and somewhat resembles the Ladies' Smock.


Nau, large plant very similar in size and appearance to the common wall flower; it is found in rocky places, and bears a white flower.

Nat. Ord. Eleocarpeæ.
Hinau Eleocarpus, Hinau Dæcira dentata.

A beautiful and valuable timber tree, producing a berry with a hard stone. The berry is edible, but unless prepared in the native way it has a very harsh taste. Before it is used as food the natives steep it for several days in running water, after which the farinaceous part is easily separated from the stone and becomes a fine meal of an olive colour, which is kneaded into cakes; these are are highly prized, so page 93 that there is an old saying, “a hungry man should not be awoke from his rest unless it be to eat Hinau bread.”

Nat. Ord. Oxalidaceæ.

Reti-reti, Tutaekahu, Oxalis Urvillei. There are four varieties of the sorrel; the largest, and most abundant, bears a pretty yellow flower and is found on the sand hills, by the sea side, as well as in the woods; it is a wholesome vegetable when boiled.

Nat. Ord. Rosaceæ.

Taraheke, leafless kind.

Taramoa; there are three varieties of the bramble; the more common one is abundant in the forest, where it climbs to the tops of the loftiest trees, and sometimes is found with a stem eight inches in diameter; its fruit is small with large seeds, but it has an agreeable flavour, and might be improved by cultivation.

Nat. Ord. Piperaceæ.

Kawa kawa; Piper excelsus; this elegant shrub bears a fruit similar in shape and taste, before it is ripe, to the Jamaica long pepper; when fully ripe it is of a yellowish cream colour, with black seeds, and has an agreeable flavour; the leaves are infused as tea, and when brewed, make a very refreshing beer.

Nat. Ord. Myrtaceæ.

Ramarama, Rohutu, New Zealand Myrtle; it produces an ill flavoured, though edible berry.

Kahikatoa, Manuka, Lepto spermum scoparium; the leaves of this shrub are a very common substitute for tea; it produces also a saccharine substance, like manna, called Pia and Tohika, which is eaten.

Nat. Ord. Umbelliferæ.

Pinaikere, Fæniculum; this plant grows in great abundance in the interior plains; it has a strong smell of the aniseed or fennel; both the leaves and root are eaten; the latter resembles the carrot in size.

Kuweo, He Paipai, Taramea, thorny plant abounding in the central plains; its tender shoot and carrot shaped root are both eaten.

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Nat. Ord. Passifloreæ.

Aka, Popohue, Kohia, Kohi, Powiwi, Tawiwi, passion flower of this country; it bears a fruit of a bright orange colour, about the size of a cherry; the seeds are embedded in a crimson pulp, and from them the natives formerly expressed a fragrant oil; the pulp has an agreeable flavour.

Nat. Ord. Onagrariæ.

Kohutukutuku, Kohutuhutu, Kotukutuku, Konini, Fuschia excortica; the fruit is of the size and shape of a horsebean, of a deep purple color; it is sweet, though rather insipid.

Nat. Ord. Ficoideae.

Naupiro, Mesembryanthemum; pig's ear; this plant produces an insipid fruit, which can be eaten; the leaves make a very good pickle; it is generally found in the vicinity of the sea.

Nat. Ord. Compositæ.

Korau, Poronea, Puwa, Rauriki, Aotea, Puroa, sowthistle, springs up spontaneously in every spot which has been cultivated, and is generally used as a vegetable by the natives.

Nat. Ord. Eriaceæ.

Patotara, diminutive shrub bearing a bright orange berry, as large as a currant.

Nat. Ord. Epacrideæ.

Tarakupenga, low shrub growing on sandhills; it produces a small edible berry, like a currant.

Nat. Ord. Convolvulaceæ.

Pohue, Panapa, Pohuehue, Calystegia sepium, Calystegia solbanella, convolvulus edulus; there are three varieties of the Convolvulus, each having a long fleshy root which was formerly used as a vegetable.

Nat. Ord. Coriaræ.

Tupakihi, Tutu, Puhoa, Taweku, Coriaria sarmentosa; there are three varieties of this shrub, each diminishing in size; the least not growing more than three inches high; they all bear fruit, which is produced in clusters, not unlike page 95 a bunch of currants, with the seed external, of a purple colour and of an agreeable flavour; but it can only be used by expressing the juice and carefully separating all the seeds and seed stalks, which are very poisonous. It is the native wine, and when boiled with Rimu, a seaweed, forms a jelly which is very palatable; when fermented, it makes a sort of wine; the juice contains so much colouring matter that it may be used as a dye.

Nat. Ord. Solanae.

Poroporo, Turunui, Koheuheu, Raupeti laciniatum; there are two or three varieties of this family; one, a large shrub, producing a berry about the size of a gooseberry, which is eaten. The leaves of the other, Raupeti, resembling the common English night shade, are eaten by the natives either raw or cooked.

Nat. Ord. Chenopodeæ.

Rengarenga, Tetragonia expansa, New Zealand Spinach; it was first brought into notice by Captain Cook, who found it useful as an antiscorbutic; the natives use it as food; it is chiefly found in low swampy grounds near the sea, and is easily propagated from seed; it is perennial; there are several varieties.

Nat. Ord. Coniferae.

Rimu, Dacridium cupressinum; a noble tree, and by far the most beautiful of the New Zealand pines; it produces a small fruit, with the seed externally attached, which is much prized by the natives, the smallness of the size being made up by its abundance; this tree produces a resin which is both sweet and bitter; the wood, also, possesses the same qualities; an infusion might be used for beer.

Te Mai, Matai, Taxus matai: this pine resembles the English Yew in the form of its leaf; the fruit is a black, or purple berry, about the size of a wild cherry; it is sweet and rather slimy, but of an agreeable flavour.

Miro, Podocarpus ferruginea; the fruit of this pine is about the size of a small plum, rather flattened; it is a bright red externally, with a yellow pulp inside, which covers a large hard stone; the flavour is sweet but rather bitter, very page 96 aromatic, resembling that of the nutmeg; it is the favorite food of the Kereru, or wood pigeon.

Kahikatea, Podocarpus excelsus; the fruit of this pine is similar to that of the Rimu; its wood and resin also have the same qualities as the former; Captain Cook brewed beer from it for his men during his stay in New Zealand.

Nat. Ord. Laurineae.

Karaka, Corynocarpus laerrigator; this beautiful Laurel produces a fruit about twice the size of a large Acorn, of an orange colour, having somewhat the flavour of an apricot, but by far too strong to be agreeable; the kernel is as large as an Acorn; until it has been cooked and steeped in a running stream for a fortnight it is very poisonous; after it has undergone this process it is much prized as an article of food by the natives.

Tawa, Laurus Tawa; the fruit of this tree has some-what the appearance of a wine-sour plum, and it is very sweet with a slight flavour of turpentine; the kernel, when cooked, is also eaten; the bark, when infused, furnishes the traveller with a wholesome, as well as a grateful beverage, which does not require the addition of sugar.

Kohe, Kohekohe, Laurus Kohekohe; the large leaves of this beautiful tree are extremely bitter, and may be used in the same way as Peruvian bark.

Taraire, Laurus macrophylla; this tree produces a long, oval fruit, about the size of the date; the pulp is sweet, but has too strong a taste of turpentine to be agreeable.

Nat. Ord. Amentaceae.

Titoki, Tokitoki, Topitopi, Alectryon excelsum; this tree bears a singular looking fruit, more agreeable to the eye than to the taste; it is contained in a calyx, which bursts open and discloses the fruit of a bright red fleshy appearance, having a black seed in the centre, from which the natives extract an oil; the fruit is sweet, but has a very rough taste.


Nat. Ord. Orchideae.

Maikaika; there are several members of this family, which all produce edible roots; when roasted they are not page 97 unlike the potatoe, and are sometimes found as large as small kidney potatoes.

Pereiperei; this plant is only found in dense forests; it has tuberous roots, in size resembling the Kumara, but it is more prolific than even the potatoe; the tubers, when cooked, are sweet and mealy.

Nat. Ord. Asphodelae.

Harakeke, Phormium tenax; this plant, when in bloom, has the calyx of its flowers filled with honey, or, rather, with a sweet water, which the natives drink; one plant will produce nearly half a pint; at the root of the leaves is found a considerable quantity of semi-liquid gum, which is also eaten.

Rengarenga, Arthropodium cirratum; this is the New Zealand representative of the Lily, and is one of its most beautiful flowers; the root is large and fleshy, and is eaten.

Nat. Ord. Smilaceae.

Whanake, Ti, Cordyline Australis; there are several varieties of this tree, all of which have long tap roots, which the natives cook; they have then a bitter sweet taste; the early Missionaries brewed excellent beer from them; the tender shoots are also eaten, and, although rather bitter, make a wholesome dish; the Toi dracedra also has a large tap root, which is likewise eaten; the Kouka is another variety which may be used in a similar way.

Kiekie, Uriuri, Ori, Tiore, Patangatanga, Freycinetia Banksii; this plant is found in forests, whereit sometimes runs along the ground or climbs up the trees; it bears a male and female flower, the inner leaves of which are white, thick and fleshy; they are also tender and sweet and form a delicious fruit in Spring; in Autumn the pistils of the female flower, which are generally three, sometimes four in number, increase in size until they attain a length of nearly a foot, and a diameter of three inches; the outer skin is rough and very bitter, but when scraped off, it exposes the pulp of the fruit, which, when fully ripe, is very sweet and of an agreeable flavour; this may be considered by far the finest native fruit in New Zealand; the flower fruit is called Tawara, and is ripe in Spring; the other is called Pirori and Teure, and is in season at the commencement of Winter.

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Kowarawara, Astelia Banksii; this plant is an epiphyte and produces its fruit in bunches, which is like a small red currant, with a small black seed in it; it is sweet and viscid.

Kokaha; this plant resembles the former in leaf, but grows on the ground; its root is eaten.

Nat. Ord. Palmaceae.

Nikau, Miko, Areca sapida; the tender shoot is eaten, either raw or cooked; in the former state it has the taste of a nut.

Nat. Ord. Graminaceæ.

Pingao, Elymus; this is a coarse sedgy grass which runs over the sandhills in the vicinity of the sea, principally on the West coast; the tender shoot is sweet and palatable, and is eaten.

Nat. Ord. Cyperaceae Typhaceae.

Raupo, Typha angustifolia; the root, Korere, of this sedge runs deep in the swamps and attains a considerable size; it is white, tender, and cellular, filled with a fine mealy substance, which is eaten.


Nat. Ord. Filices.

Korau, Pitau, Mamaku, Cyathea medullus; this is the most beautiful of the New Zealand arborescent ferns; its long, graceful leaves and jet black stalks, with its tender fronds, curled so as to form no inapt resemblance of a crozier, are sure to arrest the traveller's attention in the forest; the entire stem being peeled is eaten, and when cooked in the hangi, (Mamaku) is very good; one tree will dine a large party; it is a favorite dish of the natives; it is also worthy of notice that the pith of the cooked Mamaku, when dried in the sun, forms no bad substitute for sago.

Rarauhe, Pteris esculenta; this is the common fern, the root of which (Aruhe or Roi) is eaten; when well beaten, roasted, and deprived of its fibres, it is good eating; the proper time for digging it, is the early part of November, when it is stacked (Titara) and carefully protected from the page 99 weather, but the wind is allowed to blow through it; the fern root is still prized as food, especially by the sick and those who travel by sea, being a great preventive of sea-sickness; there are particular spots where they dig it, and the part which is selected is the deepest in the earth.

Uwipara, Paratawiti; a very rare fern growing in the densest parts of the forest, having a very long and slender leaf; the root is scaly, like that of the white lily, each scale being of a considerable size; these are roasted and considered a great delicacy.

Nat. Ord. Fungi.

Harori; the New Zealand forests abound with them, and many are edible; of such are the following:—the Hakekakeka, which has a brown leathery appearance; the Hawai, which is the same as the Roupou; the Aaroritui, which is a large white fungus; the Wairuru, and the Powata.

Parekoko, Panako, Tubar cibarium; this truffle nearly resembles the European; it is abundant, but difficult to discover; the natives esteem it as an article of food; there are several varieties of it.

Nat. Ord. Algae.

Rimu, Chondrus Chrispus; this sea weed is generally used by the natives, being boiled with the juice of the Tutu, which it converts into a jelly; it possesses all the properties of the Carrigeen moss, and will, doubtless, before long be as highly prized by the Europeans as it is by the natives.

Most of the Algae of the New Zealand shores are edible and still occasionally used as food.

The following Table Will Assist in Shewing the Close Connexion Between the Natives of New Zealand and the Polynesian Race in General:—

Atua, general name for the Diety [sic: Deity] in almost all the islands; teu, Aleutian isles.

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Aitua, satisfaction of the spirit, an evil omen; Aitua, Spirit, Samoan, Rorotonga; Maitu, Pau.

Aka, creeping plant, a liand; Tonga, Rarotonga, Mangarewa, Nukahiva.

Akaaka, root of a potatoe; Samoa, Tahaiti, Hawaii, Vitia, Tarawa.

Hue, general name for the pumpkin or melon, or creeping vines; Fue, Pohue, convolvus; Fue Fue, wild vine, Sam.; Hue, Nuk., Haw.; Pohuehue, do.; Pohue, Tah.; the gourd convol., Braziliensis.

Huhu, moth; Uu, Rar., Nuk., an insect of the beetle kind.

Hutu, a tree; Phillocladus Trichamanoides, Tah. and Nuk., the Barringtonia speciosa; Ifi, Sam. Ton.; ihi, Nuk. a species of chesnut.

Ipu, calabash, cup; Sam., Tong., Nuk., Tah., Mang., Haw.

Iro, maggot. Ilo, Haw.; Vio, Tah.; Io, Nuk.

Kaho, and Kakaho, reed, a rush; Kaho, Tong.; Kakaho, Tong.; Kakao, Mang.; Aeho, Tah.; Ahuawa, Haw.

Kakau, handle of a tool, the stalk or stem of a plant, Nuk.; Kau, Tang.; Au, Sam., Haw.

Kawakawa; evidently used when the natives first arrived as Cava; the memory of the custom is preserved in the names of places where they used to meet for drinking it, as Kawaranga, in the Thames.

Kete, basket; Rar., Mang.; Ete, Sam., Haw.; Kete in the Tong. and Vit., is the stomach or belly.

Kiri, skin, Rar.; Kili, Fakaafa, Tong.; Iri, Tah.; Ili, Haw.; Kii, Nuk.; a skin, bark, rind; also a rasp, file, originally of the Shark's skin.

Kiore, rat, Mang.; Kiole, Pau.; Iole, Sam., Haw.

Kirikiri, gravel, pebbles, Tar.; Kilikili, Iliili, Sam., Haw.

Ko, native spade, Nuk.; O, Tah., Haw.

Kuku, muscle, shell fish, Tong.; ùù, Sam., Haw.

Kuku, pigeon; Nuk., a green dove.

Kukupa, pigeon, Pau.; Uupa, Tah.

Kumara, sweet potatoe, Batata; Kumara, Mang.; Kumaa, or, Kumawa, Nuk.; Umara, Tah.; Uala, Haw.

Kumete, Umete, Ubique, wooden bowl.

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Kupenga, Upenga, Upena, Upea, Ubique, sieve.

Kuri, dog, Rar., Mang.; Kuli, Tong.; Uli, Sam.; Uri, Tah.

Mai, pine tree; Mai, Mea, Tong., Mang., Nuk., Tar.; Maiore, Tah., Mang., Pau.; Aeiore, Haw.; breadfruit tree.

Mahana, warm; Tah., the sun, a day.

Marae; properly the court before the Tohunga's house; it applied to any open space in a pa; in Tahaiti it is a sacred enclosure.

Miro, Podocarpus ferrugenea, Tah.; Mo, Nuk.; a tree, Thespicia populneae.

Moa, New Zealand, large extinct bird; Ubique, the common fowl.

Paraua, sperm whale; Palaoa, Haw.; Paaoa, Nuk.; Mang., same as New Zealand.

Poepoe, ball used in play; a round thing; Fae, Tong., Haw., Rar.; Poe, Tah., Rar., Mang., a pearl.

Pona, knot, Sam., Rar., Nuk., Haw., the parts of a sugar cane between the joints.

Ponapona, joint; Pona, Nuk.

Pungawerewere, spider; Punavelevele, Haw.; Punaveevee, Nuk.

Rae, Lae, Ae, Ubique, forehead.

Rata, tree; Lata, Tah., Tuscarpus edulis; Lata, Tong., a tree, Metrosideros robusta.

Rau, a leaf, Rar., Mang., Pau.; Lau, La, Sam.; Lau, Lou, Tong.; Lau, Hau.; Au, Ou, Nuk.; Ndrau, Ndra, Vit.; a leaf, foliage raurau, Tah.

Romi, Roromi, to rub, press, or squeeze; Lomi, Lolomi, Omi, to shampoo.

Rongomai, a New Zealand god; Tahaiti, Te Rongo.

Roro, brain; Oo, Nuk., the core of the breadfruit; Lolo, Sam., the kernel of the old cocoanut; Lolololo, fat; Lolo, Tong., oil, oily, Haw.

Rororoi, kind of pudding formed of mashed kumara or potatoe; Loloi, Tong.; Tutolo, Haw.; Turoro, Mang., a pudding in which cocoanut oil is an ingredient.

Ruru, owl; Lulu, Sam., Tong., Vit.

Tangaroa; one of the most ancient of the New Zealand gods; Taaroa, in Tahaiti, is regarded as the Creator.

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Taro, arum; Talo, Tao, Ubique.

Ti, throughout the islands, name of a tree in New Zealand, Dracaena Australis.

Tohora, black whale, Tah., Haw.; Tafola, Sam., Fak.; Tafoa, Tong.

Tupapaku, dead body; Tupapau, Tah.

Uri, fruit of the kiekie; Kulu, Niua, Kuru, Rar.; Paiuru, Tah.; Ulu, Haw., the breadfruit.

Wata, stand, or raised platform for food; Fata, Tah.

Wau, paper mulberry; a tree said by the natives to have been originally brought with them; from its inner bark, they formerly made a kind of cloth, used by females as a cincture for the hair; Fau, Sam., Tong., Nuk., the hibiscus liliaceus, a tree from whose bark the natives make twine; Vau, Vit.; the hibiscus; the cincture worn by women is made from its bark; Fau, Fak.; Pau, Haw.

Wiwi, rush; Wi, Tafifi, Tah.; Tau, Rar.; Tahihi, Haw.; Tawiwi, to ensnare, entangle, to be entangled in the rushes.

Printed at the Spectator office.
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