Search syntax

Inner bark of Hoheria angustofolia. Houhere. Lacebark. Creator: Sue Scheele. © Sue Scheele. [Image: 132V] Inner bark of Hoheria angustofolia. Houhere. Lacebark Creator: Sue Scheele. © Sue Scheele. [Image: 132V]

Ngā Rauropi Whakaoranga searches across all fields by default, however there are several options to help you refine a search.

Special characters

To search text containing special characters the text must be enclosed in double quotes ("). Special characters include any of the following set:

? [  ] + - ( ) {  }  ^ ~ *  : /  | ! &


  • "Forest & Bird"

Full word search using AND

Use a space between words or AND to define an AND search. The space is treated as an AND. AND must be in written in upper case. A record must contain each of the words in the search query that are separated by a space or AND to be a match.


  • Cyathea silver
  • Cyathea AND silver

Full word search using OR

A record must contain only one of these words to be a match. OR must be written in upper case.


  • Cyathea OR silver

Phrase search

Use double quotes to define a search term that is a phrase. A record must contain the exact phrase to be a match.


  • "silver fern" (Returns records that contains the exact string "silver fern".)

Negative searches

To omit results containing a specific term a - symbol is added in front of that term. A record must contain any other search terms that are included but must not contain terms proceeded by the - symbol.


  • silver -fern  (Returns records that contain silver but not fern.)

Wild card search

The wild card used in this portal is the * symbol. Wild cards can be placed anywhere within your query term. Without a wild card, a word is treated as a full word search. For example, a search for beet will return only results where the word beet is used but a search for beet* will return results for beet, beetle, and any other word that starts with beet.


  • perfum* (Find records containing words beginning with perfum, such as perfume, perfumed, perfumes.)
  • *wai (Find records containing words that end with wai, such as tōwai, tawai, waiwai.)
  • dy*ing (Find records with words that start with dy and end with ing, such as dying and dyeing.)

Field limited search

To search within a specific field, the search is proceeded by the field name and a colon. Searchable fields are listed at the bottom of this page and must be written with the correct lower and upper cases characters as below.


  • chemistry:acid  (Find records that contain the word acid in the chemistry field.)
  • food:honey AND medicinal:honey  (Find records that contain honey in the food and medicinal fields.)
  • toxins:* (Find all records that contain information for the toxins field.)

Negative field search

The field limited search can be used prefixed with - to exclude any records with the specified text in a particular field.


  • -domestic:sandals (Find all records not containing sandals in the domestic use field.)
  • -toxins:* (Find all records without information on toxins.)

Combining negative and field searches

It is possible to combine negative and context searches, particularly to omit subsets of records from the search results.


  • medicinal:seed AND -toxins:*(Find records that contain the word seed in the medicinal field and do not have information on toxins.)

Proximity Search

A proximity search returns as a match any record where the search terms are within a specified distance of each other. 


  • "silver fern"~150 (This returns record where the words silver and fern occur within 150 words of each other.)

Complex searches

It is possible to combine elements of the search syntax in different ways to create complex searches.


  • commonNames:*fern* AND (food:root OR medicinal:root)  (Find all records with the text "fern" in the common names field that also contain root in the food or medicinal fields.)
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