Saturday, October 31, 2009

Kawakawa, NZ Pepper tree

Kawakawa is a native coastal shrub in New Zealand. It is 2 - 3m tall.

Kawakawa is a traditional medicinal plant of the Māori. The fruit, bark and leaves of the kawakawa all have medicinal properties. The leaves are made into a tea by being steeped in hot water.An infusion is made from the leaves or roots, and used for bladder problems, boils, bruises, to relieve pain or toothache, or as a general tonic. The sweet edible yellow berries (most often found in summer on female trees) of the plant were eaten as a diuretic.

The leaves of this plant are used to make Titoki Liqueur which is exported to Japan, Australia, Fiji and the United Kingdom. The seeds of this plant could be used commercially as culinary spice, as this tree is related to Piper nigrum (Black pepper).

At Maori welcomes, Host people of a marae wave leaves of kawakawa to welcome guests, especially at tangi. Both they and the guests may wear wreaths of kawakawa on the head as a sign of mourning.

I am teaching my students about the Marae, the Maori meeting house, and showed them photos of the marae at Orakei where I stayed overnight at Waitangi day. My kids asked if I am a Maori and I told them I am, I was invited by the elders of the Marae that since we had eaten with them, slept with them and worked with them, we became of of them.

A Tongan kid asked," Are you an adopted Maori?"

I said, "Yes."

This plant is in my school grounds, our teacher Mr. Emerson Nikora teaches the kids Haka Kapa, and the girls use the leaves of the KawaKawa in our welcoming ceremonies.


Anonymous said...

I wondered if it could be related to black pepper corns. How cool to have something traditional growing in such a handy place. I'll bet the kids don't appreciate it nearly as much now as they will in about 20 years.

hungeryjack said...

Nice post - edible photos ..Keep Posting

edible photos