Māori liken the flax plant to a family, with the central shoot (rito) representing the baby. The leaves protecting the rito are called the parents (awhi rito or mātua). Only the leaves on the outside of the plant, the grandparents (tūpuna), can be cut, or else the plant will be weakened.
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Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Artwork by Bruce Mahalski
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