Story: Plant extracts



Māori used the bark of the tall pukatea (Laurelia novae-zelandiae) tree as a painkiller, boiling the inner layer to make a decoction. Pulped inner bark was also held in the mouth to ease toothache. Pukatea bark contains pukateine, which has a chemical structure similar to morphine. It was first isolated in 1910 by Bernard Aston, the first chemist at the Department of Agriculture.

Using this item

Private collection
Photographs by Maggy Wassilieff; Jeremy Rolfe (inset)

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Nigel Perry, 'Plant extracts - Unique plants and chemicals', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 28 September 2023)

Story by Nigel Perry, published 24 Sep 2007