Story: Rongoā – medicinal use of plants

Page 4. Other medicinal plants

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  • The bark of the kōwhai tree was heated in a calabash with hot stones, and made into a poultice for wounds or to rub on a sore back.
  • A person bitten in the face by a seal had wai kōwhai (kōwhai juice) applied to their wounds, and was well within days.


Most medicinal uses of kūmarahou were recorded in the 1900s.

  • The leaves were boiled and used as a soothing and healing agent.
  • The juice of the leaves was also used in baths.
  • Drinking the liquid in which leaves had been boiled was said to be good for rheumatism and asthma.


  • Ashes of mānuka were rubbed on the scalp to cure dandruff.
  • Mānuka branches were used to splint broken limbs.
  • Leaves were put in a calabash with water and hot stones, and the liquid was drunk to ease a fever.
  • The bark was boiled in water, which was drunk to cure dysentery and diarrhoea.


Tētēaweka (muttonbird scrub) was found on the Tītī Islands, where muttonbirds are caught – hence its English name. This scented plant was used in steam ovens, for feverish patients.


  • The inner bark of the rimu tree was beaten into pulp and put on burnt skin.
  • The pulped bark was combined with water and hot stones in a calabash, and dabbed on ulcers or running sores.
  • The bark of the young tree was used to stop wounds bleeding.
How to cite this page:

Rhys Jones, 'Rongoā – medicinal use of plants - Other medicinal plants', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 16 July 2024)

Story by Rhys Jones, published 24 Sep 2007