There are two identified species of flax in New Zealand, the common flax (harakeke) and mountain flax (wharariki). Around Lake Mapourika and up ‘the creek’ the harakeke flax is abundant.
Harakeke was originally named flax as it bears similarities to other varieties of Flax around the world, but Harakeke is in fact actually a lily.
The harakeke flax generally grows to about 3 meters in height and can be recognized by its distinct sword shaped leaves, the flower stems can grow to about 4 meters in height and are full of an abundance nectar.
Unique to New Zealand, Flax is one of our oldest and most versatile species of plant. Flax has multiple uses and was a very valuable resource for the indigenous Maori people, and for the European settlers.
Due to its strong fibers flax is able to woven into many useful things including:
- traditional clothing
- bird snares
- fishing lines and nets
These days flax is used in many soaps, shampoos and creams. and it is still used for its traditional purposes in many places and by many people.
- Tui, bell birds and and many types of insects enjoy eating the sweet nectar from the Harakeke Flowers (so also do our Guides!).
- Harakeke is the Maori name for this plant
- Flax bushes are a haven for a range of animals and supply food, shelter and resources.
- You can suck the nectar from the Harakeke Flower and it tastes like sweet honey.