Story: Māori foods – kai Māori

Crushing fern root, 1842

Crushing fern root, 1842

Aruhe, the rhizome of the bracken fern, needed careful crushing before it became edible. This was a constant activity in many Māori communities before European starchy foods were widely available. This 1842 lithograph shows Pipitea Pā in Wellington. The artist notes that, 'The Maori to the right is bruising the roots of the common fern for food which they like.' In the whare behind him, a woman cooks on a small fire.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: PUBL-0011-04-1
Hand-coloured lithograph by William Mein Smith

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:

Charles Royal and Jenny Kaka-Scott, 'Māori foods – kai Māori - Traditional growing and gathering', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 17 June 2024)

Story by Charles Royal and Jenny Kaka-Scott, published 5 Sep 2013