In this video conference, scientist Stephen Tauwhare briefly explains the historical relationship between Māori and harakeke.
Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Tāmaki Nui a Rua: I mua i te taenga mai o te iwi Māori kinei, i whātoro atu rātau ki te āhuatanga o te harakeke? I te mōhio rātau ki ngā āhuatanga o te harakeke?
Wiremu: Before they came to New Zealand, did Māori have Harakeke and were they using it? Did they know about the properties of the harakeke before?
Stephen Tauwhare (Prior to our people coming to Aotearoa, there was the great weaving plant of the Pacific Islands - pandanis - which is a very similar plant to harakeke. It is woven in pretty much the same way and people prior to coming to Aotearoa used that for all the things they now use harakeke for. The reason for that is when they brought that plant to Aotearoa, they tried to grow it and it didn’t grow as well. Of course, also when they arrived here, there was lots of harakeke all over the country, so why not use it?