Nga mihi nui kia koutou katoa…
I am of Ngati Torehina ki Matakaa, Ngati Pare & Ngati Mau descent. Being the whanau representative on Aroha Island Trustee committee allows me to help with the preservation & regeneration of this special place in a good & gentle way. One of my roles is to care for the flax on the island.
I have been working with local weavers to produce our special range of Kete and Whakairo
There are two names in te reo depending on which part of Aotearoa you come from are used to describe Phorium tenax & P. cookium.
Harakeke: used by the wider community describes the sound each blade makes when rubbed together caused by the wind &
Korari: kupu (name) used by Ngapuhi for the flax flower
My earliest recollection of korari & its healing properties is when we moved from Wharengaere to Wellington. In my first 6 years, our family’s daily diet of kai moana & tarohoia ( a root vegetable eaten as a bread like supplement), puha, & watercress changed drastically to market garden vegetables, & freezing work meat. During this transition, we constantly suffered tummy upsets and other gastric complaints.
My mother, a weaver & knowledgeable in natural healing remedies (rongoa) sought out a flax bush as close as possible to the original variety grown on the shores of Wharengaere Bay & Aroha Island. She found a small bush along the Hutt River, took a cutting & planted it on our property. She also brought a small piece of flax root about the size of a large 50 cent piece, boiled it & we swallowed a teaspoon full. We took this rongoa on a regular basis (every 3 to 6 months). Although it was quite bitter, it helped neutralize the toxins in the meat & vegetables we consumed which relieved our tummy upsets.
My mother used to say; never sick- a weaver when her hands create taonga (special things or gifts with korari. What she has crafted for her children, is given back in full (healing properties) by nga Tamariki o Tane (the children of Tane).
Although there are other plant varieties that are used for weaving, kiekie, pingao, kuta, supple jack etc.., I prefer to weave korari. The blades of korari are more commonly used because of it’s availability & mostly, easy access.
Many things can be weaved; rope, hinaki (eel & fishing nets), kiinaki (loose weave kete for shaking sand out when harvesting pipi etc. Also taamata (table mats), whaariki (large floor mats), kakahu (clothing) & many more.
Aroha Island has this healing plant as well as kawakawa for skin conditions & cuts, tutu for arthritis & OUS, & many other healing plants growing all over her grounds including the replanting of other herbal flora & fauna.
Aroha Island is a unique, special place that permeates with spiritual quality & sense of being; In-the-moment atmosphere.
We are blessed to have all these ‘gifts’ in one special place; to be admired, fondled, & used for our benefit.