Your Christmas Shopping for a Song

Date posted: 04-Dec-2017

Aka - The Grand Christmas Shopping Expedition to Tiritiri Matangi Island Shop Dreading..

2018 Photo Comp opens for entries

Date posted: 27-Nov-2017

The 2018 Photo Competition is now open for entries. Click here (/2018-photo-competition-tiritiri-mat..

New reports on ruru nesting and Island conservation

Date posted: 02-Oct-2017

Two new reports have been added to the website. The first gives details of a summer students..

2018 calendars now available

Date posted: 27-Sep-2017

Our latest calendar, beautifully illustrated with images taken on the Island, is now available fo..

Guided walks for photographers

Date posted: 21-Jun-2017

For a wonderful day of wildlife photography please join us on Tiritiri Matangi Island for a Ph..

Ferry discounts for Supporters

Date posted: 18-May-2017

Tiritiri Matangi Island, the perfect winter's day trip. The birds are at their best, warm up w..

More kiwi for the Island

Date posted: 04-Apr-2017

In 1993 and 1995, sixteen little spotted kiwi were released on Tiritiri Matangi Island. The ma..

2017 Photo Competition

Date posted: 22-Mar-2017

It is that time of year again when we are looking for entries for our photo competition (and phot..

The 2017 concert

Date posted: 05-Feb-2017

This year's concert promises to be another wonderful and unique experience. Click here (/concert-..

Shorebird Film Festival at Devonport

Date posted: 26-Oct-2016

Click here (/miscellaneous documents/DevWaderFilms.jpg) for details of a forthcoming film festival c..


Botanical name:  Phormium tenax
Maori name:  Harakeke
Common name:  Flax

Flax bush

A member of the day lily family Hermerocallidaceae, flax is capable of surviving on clifftops and bone-dry cuttings as well as in swamps.  Leaves are 1 – 3 m long.


Flax played an important role in traditional Maori life. It was used to make clothing, food baskets, mats and fish traps. Fibre was extracted from the leaves by first scraping them with a mussel shell. It was then washed, dried and bleached in the sun. The fibre was rolled into a double thread for weaving. 

Flower stalks were made into rafts and nectar from the flowers sweetened fern root meal. The orange gum from the base of the plant was administered as an antiseptic and used to stop bleeding

Flax flowersFlax flower spearsWhen flowering flax provides nectar for honeyeaters. The seeds are eaten by kakariki and the bushy clumps provide shelter and nesting sites for penguins.  Flowering is from November to January, with seeds from February to March.


Flax was also used for rope making by Europeans, initially for the Royal Navy.

Photography by Jan Velvin
© (top right, bottom left ) and by Peter Craw ©
(bottom left)