2021 Photo Competition

Date posted: 21-Jan-2021

2021 Photo Competition Now Open It is that time of year again when we are look..

Primary School Science Conservation 2020 Award

Date posted: 18-Dec-2020

Dylan Lewis Y7 from Mahurangi College, Warkworth, being presented with the ..

Supporters of Tiritiri Inc and Fullers 360 Science Conservation 2020 Award

Date posted: 18-Dec-2020

The NIWA Auckland City Science and Technology Fair winner of the Supporters of Tiritiri ..

2020 Conservation Week

Date posted: 12-Aug-2020

Meet the Takahē on Tiritiri Matangi Island When: 1:30 pm, ..

AGM 2020

Date posted: 25-Jul-2020

PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF DATE TO WEDNESDAY 21ST OCTOBER 2020 due to Covid restrictions at t..

Ferry Resuming July 4th!

Date posted: 01-Jun-2020

Great News!!! We have confirmation Fuller360 ferry service to Tiritiri Matangi wi..

The 2020 Photo Competition Winners

Date posted: 22-May-2020

Here are the winning and commended photos from this year's competition. Congratulations to the photo..

Celebrate the Takahe Art Competition

Date posted: 08-Apr-2020

Hi Tiri Kids, It’s TakahÄ“ Awareness Month! Everyone loves our takah..

COVID-19 Important Information

Date posted: 25-Mar-2020

The government has announced that New Zealand is now at alert level 2 for COVID-19. Th..

2019 Winner Primary School Supporters of Tiritiri and Fullers 360 Science Award is Ethan Raymond

Date posted: 11-Mar-2020

Ethan has helped the Enviro-Warriors in many ways such as planning, gard..


Botanical name: Sophora chathamica
Maori name: Kowhai
Common name:  Coastal kowhai
Height: Up to 20 metres

Kowhai flowers

New Zealand has 8 species of the genus Sophora. They are all endemic, have similarly structured yellow tubular flowers and are all called kowhai. The individual species are differentiated by their leaf and pod structure, growth pattern and their choice of habitat. 

On Tiritiri Matangi we have coastal kowhai (Sophora chathamica). It is mainly found in western coastal areas of the northern North Island and also areas around Wellington and on the Chatham Islands. It is thought to have originally been indigenous only to the northern half of the North Island but was spread further south by Waikato and Taranaki Maori as a deliberate planting for medicinal and ornamental purposes. 

Coastal kowhai begins flowering in early August. Copious nectar is produced, attracting tui and bellbirds. Some Maori considered that the appearance of the first kowhai flowers marked the time to plant kumara. Pods are formed during September and October, often remaining on the trees for up to a year. The leaves on coastal kowhai can be up to 15cm long and are made up of crowded and overlapping leaflets with as many as 55 on some examples. Tender new leaf growth and flowers are a food source relished by kereru. 

Kowhai bark was used by Maori to make poultices for wounds and sores. Kowhai timber is very durable; early settlers used it for making tools and as a building material. 

Sophora is a large genus of over 45 species, found in subtropical and temperate regions of North and South America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. They belong in the legume family, Fabaceae. Sophora is from the Arabic word sufayra, the name for a leguminous tree. Chathamica means 'from the Chathams'; coastal kowhai was first described from material collected from the Chatham Islands. Kowhai means yellow.

Kowhai seed pods and foliage

Photography by Neil Davies