Story: Contraception and sterilisation

Poroporo plant

Poroporo plant

Māori women used poroporo (Solanum laciniatum and S. aviculare) shrubs as contraceptives. They boiled leaves and drank the broth about a week before menstruation. The efficacy of the decoction as a method of birth control is not known. In Taranaki in the late 1970s and early 1980s, poroporo shrubs were grown for solasodine, a steroid used in contraceptives. When it proved cheaper to raise such plants overseas or use synthetic substitutes, poroporo was no longer cultivated in New Zealand. 

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Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: E-050-020
Watercolour by Clelia L. Burton

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Jane Tolerton, 'Contraception and sterilisation - 19th-century contraception', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 13 April 2024)

Story by Jane Tolerton, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 7 Dec 2018