Friday, December 19, 2008

Travis Wetland - New Zealand Flax - Harekeke

A natural lattice of flax leaves frames a view of the Travis Swamp centre lake. A paradise duck in the centre distant background (and out of focus) is framed by flax.

The New Zealand flax or harekeke's nectar-bearing flowers provide a food source for birdlife.

Harakeke served as an important fibre resource for Maori who used flax to weave ketes (bags), mats, bowls, capes, and ropes.

Flax is often found on the banks of streams in wetland areas. Flax on the left. On right in the middle distance is a stand of raupo whose leaves were used to thatch Maori whares (houses). Raupo rhizomes or roots were used for chewing; the tender fresh shoot of the rhizome was harvested in the spring. Maori made a type of bread from a paste of raupo pollen and baking it in an umu or earth oven.

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