Point of Interest – Kawakawa

kawakawaKawakawa (Macropiper excelsum) is a small tree which is found throughout the north island and upper south island of New Zealand and is common in all the bush areas of Te Mata Park. Also known as the pepper tree, kawakawa leaves are often covered with insect holes which are mainly caused by the kawakawa looper moth caterpillar. Kawakawa was one of the most important healing herbs used by Māori and is still widely used today. A tea can be made from the leaves or roots and used for bladder and stomach and indigestion problems and to relieve pain. The leaves are used to heal cuts, bruises and nettle stings. Related to black pepper, Kawakawa seeds can also be used as a cooking spice. Kawakawa are prolific and vigorous growers and can create such a dense canopy that other plants are suppressed. Some kawakawa re removed to prevent this happening in the Park.