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Metrosideros robusta. Northern rātā.

Name document
Fishing and Hunting

Click to collapse Māori names Info


rakapika ([?] Taylor 1870)

Flowers of rātā: kahika,  kanohi o tāwhaki (Tūhoe, Best 1907, 1942)

Nectar of rata blossom: wai kaihua

Click to collapse Common names Info

northern rata

Click to collapse Food Info

Vine produces an astringent beverage (Baber 1887).

In Matatua district, honey from rātā blossoms is called wai kaihua. Kākā are very fond of this nectar and used to flock in great numbers to rātā trees about January (Best 1942).

Kahika (rātā flowers), along with pōānanga (Clematis) and tāwari (Ixerba) blossoms, said to produce the finest honey (Best 1907).

Click to collapse Fishing and hunting Info

Posts of mānuka and rātā used in making of eel weirs. (Makereti 1938)

When kākā seen on the rātā, seeking the nectar, "it is known that the rarangi tahi season has arrived, so the bird-snares are laid aside, and the long, pliant spears get to work" (Best 1907)

Click to collapse Domestic Info

Wallace 1989 found 6 fernroot beaters, 16 mauls, 2 paddles, a weapon, 2 eel clubs, 2 ketu, 3 ko, 1 teka, 1 wakahuia made of Metrosideros species among museum artefacts he tested.

Click to collapse Construction Info

A hard, but not durable wood (Taylor 1870)

Timber tree. Shipbuilding. Wheelwright"s work. Cabinetmaking.(Colenso 1868a). (N.B. - details on post-European timber uses generally not recorded in this database.)

Used for beams in storage houses (Best 1916).

Click to collapse Medicinal Info

Inner bark used for diarrhoea, dysentery ( Reed & Brett"s Auckland Almanac, 1874).

Bark - lotion for ringworm, venereal disease (applied locally). Flowers, bark used in honey for sore throat (Taylor 1870 ; Brett"s Guide 1883).

Bark infusion for dysentery (Kerry-Nicholls 1886).

Bark - poultice for all kinds of sores, wounds, abcesses (Bell 1890).

Bark steeped in cold water, applied for aches and pains (Best 1906)

A decoction of the bark, boiled for some time, is applied to wounds (Best 1907)

Bark decoction - wounds, dysentery. Lotion - pains, ringworm. Honey from flowers used for sore throats (Goldie 1904 and Best 1906).

Infusion made for bathing cuts, bruises, swelling. Juice expressed onto sores. Inner bark covered infected parts ( Te Rangi Hiroa 1910).

Bark boiled or crushed when fresh, and steeped overnight. Drain, apply to bruises, "takes them out very quickly" . Taken for colds, 1 dessertspoon, 3 - 4 times a day. (Poverty Bay Federation of Women"s Institutes Cookery Calendar, mid 1930s?).

Young leaves chewed and applied to hollow of sore tooth ( T. Kururangi 1941).

Sap from short lengths of vine blown on wounds - e.g. dog ripped by pigs (Adams 1945).

Click to collapse Chemistry Info

Essential oil described in Gardner 1931.

Tannins and other bark compounds described (see references in Cambie 1976; Aston 1918b, 1918c; Kirk 1889; )

Click to collapse Proverbs Info

"Kei whawhati noa mai te rau o te raataa. Don't pluck and fling about to no purpose the blossoms of the raataa tree! The raataa tree... produces myriads of red flowers; the small parts of these when blown off by the winds fill the air around: so, - Don't become ashamed when your lying is detected." (Colenso 1879: 124)

George Grey interprets this saying as: "Do not fly into a passion (get red in the face) for no cause, like the wind scattering the rata blossom."

Click to collapse Traditions Info

Traditions concerning rātā in Best 1907. The tree grows slanting because long ago a moa trod on the first little rātā tree (Anderson 1954).

Click to collapse Pastime Info

Wallace 1989 found a spinning top made of Metrosideros among the museum artefacts he tested.

Click to collapse Metadata Info

28 May 2007
1 July 2020
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