Kumarahou Kumarahou

Golden Tainui, Kumerahou, Pomaderris Kumeraho...whatever you call it this NZ native is a gift with wonderous properties

Kumarahou is not in abundance in all regions of New Zealand.  It grows with a preference to full sun and nutrient poor soil so it can often be found on the side of the road, in lower coastal areas and gumlands which would probably be why in some areas of the North it provides a beautiful show of yellow/golden colour in late spring.  

The flowering of Kumarahou was an indication to Maori of the prime time for planting kumara.  The flower heads lather with the addition of water and Maori would use them for washing and alleviating various skin conditions.  Once the kauri gum diggers came along they too would use the flowers to remove the gum resin from their hands hence the name "Gum diggers Soap".

There is a very similar tree/shrub that when not in flower looks very similar and can sometimes be mistaken for kumarahou.  This plant when in flower has creamy/pale yellow flowers and the best way I find to double check you have the right plant is; if in flower, wet the flowers/flower heads and see if the soapy lather is released as kumarahou will always lather up.  If you have no water, take a few leaves (please give karakia/thanks prior to harvesting), when you get home boil the jug and add water to leaves in a cup.  The colour of the resulting wairakau will turn into a reddish colour.  If you are having trouble still determining whether it is kumarahou...taste it! It will absolutely be bitter! If it is not bitter in any way...it is absolutely not kumarahou!

The wairakau has been used by Maori to alleviate chest ailments, coughs and colds and is well known for supporting lung and bronchial issues so is great for children and the elderly.  I use the wairakau to create a syrup for my girl who has a lung condition, especially in the lead up to winter. I add some raw honey, berries, lemon and a little ginger and boil for 30-45 mins before straining and reducing to our preferred consistency.  Although the wairakau is more than effective on its own or as a tea, the syrup has helped my girl (since 3 years old) volunteer to a regular regime when shes not feeling the best. 

We use a kumarahou balm for skin conditions as it is gentle on skin especially for babies as there is a very slim chance of allergic reaction unlike kawakawa.

Kumarahou is a gift and a privilege in our family.  We harvest enough to dry and use over the months we need, create wairakau, syrup and balm to carry us through the following year or 2 depending on the conditions and give away any excess to whanau members whenever possible.

Kumarahou is difficult to germinate so is mainly available from specialist nurseries.

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Uncontested Succession
MLC Panui - September 2021

Comments 1

WhaeaKiriana on Friday, 25 February 2022 12:56

This is awesome!

This is awesome!
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Monday, 15 July 2024

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