Piwakawaka Mini Te Mära Reo ~ The Language Garden
*Ake [Proto-Polynesian]



Dodonaea viscosa (Sapindaceae) - see Ake
Olearia avicenniaefolia & O. traversii (Asteraceae [=Compositae])

Other inherited names: Ake (see separate page)

SE - 29
SE-27, NE-6

As a reduplicated (in this case, simply doubled) form of the word ake, akeake would originally have implied that what it referred to was an altered or unusual form of the original referent (whether this was a single plant or a group of them), or something that was reminiscent of it or had some of its qualities. Thus in Aotearoa it was quite appropriately an alternative name for the ake (Dodonaea viscosa), which was identical with its Rarotongan counterpart, but different the plant given that name in Tahiti. The South Island akeake, Olearia avicenniaefolia, is quite clearly different in some important respects from the North Island ake, which also grows in the South Island and probably had already received that name. Judging by the genetic evidence concerning the kiore (Southeast Asian rat), which accompanied the Polynesian explorers of their travels, the Chatham Islands were settled from the Marlborough Sounds in the South Island, so it is not surprising that the name was applied to the tree daisy Olearia traversii unique to the islands (see K.R. Howe, The Quest for Origins, p. 178).

(New Zealand) Akeake
Location in the Language Garden
The akeake in Traditional Maori Perfumery

(New Zealand) Akeake

The best known akeake in Aotearoa is probably the ake itself, Dodonaea viscosa, which is dealt with on its own separate page.

The other two are species of the tree-daisy Olearia, among the largest members of the daisy family (Asteraceae, formerly known as the Compositae).

Olearia avicenniaefolia, also known as hakeke, grows throughout the South and Stewart Islands. The photographs in Salmon's Native Trees of NZ (pp. 322-3) show both leaves (with prominent veins and attractive sheen), bark and shape as a mature tree quite reminiscent of the ake (Dodonaea viscosa), so it is not difficult to imagine why the early settlers of that part of Aotearoa would have called it akeake.

The Chatham Islands akeake, Olearia traversii, although endemic to the islands, is now widely grown as a shelter tree in other parts of New Zealand. As noted, the Chathams seem to have been settled from the northern part of the South Island, and thus it is not surprising that their first colonizers carried the name akeake with them and applied it to this tree. Its leaves are more oval than attenuated, so while still quite reminiscent of O, avicenniaefolia, they are less like those of the Dodonaea.

Back to: (New Zealand) Akeake
Next sections:
Location in the Language Garden
The Akeake in Traditional Maori Perfumery


Location in the Language Garden

At present [February 2009] there are several Dodonaea viscosa in the garden (see the page devoted to "Ake"), but we do not have any plants of the Olearia species which have been given the name akeake.


Back to:
(New Zealand) Akeake
Location in the Language Garden
Next section:
The Akeake in Traditional Maori Perfumery



CaptionAke, Akeake Dodonaea viscosa (TMR)

Akeake - Olearia traversii (DOC)

*ake [A hardwood tree]

Tongan: ake (Hardwood tree - species not yet known)
Tahitian: ae ("A fragrant plant used to perfume oil")
Marquesan: ake ("A variety of banana")
Hawaiian: a'e (Sapindus saponaria and other trees - see *ake); a'ea'e (Musa sp., a variegated form of banana).
Rarotongan: ake (Dodonaea viscosa); on the island of Mauke akeake (Sapindus saponaria)

CaptionA'ea'e - Hawaii (Musa sp.)

Caption Akeake - Mauke, Cook Islands
Sapindus saponaria
[Photo: Forest & Kim Starr, Hawaii]


The Akeake in Traditional Maori Perfumery

The South Island akeake has beautifully scented flowers and leaves. Murdoch Riley notes that the aromatic gum extracted from the leaves by scorching them was infused in hot fat, and the product used to scent the hair and the body (Herbal, p. 125).

Back to:
(New Zealand) Akeake
Location in the Language Garden
The Akeake in Traditional Maori Perfumery


References and further reading

The written materials used in preparing this page have been noted above; the complete references are in the bibliography. There is a reference to the Chatham Islands akeake (along with the photograph reproduced on the right-hand panel) in the Department of Conservation's web page on the unique Chatham Islands flora.

Links -- e.g. There is a very good photograph of the fruit (seed) of the miro on the University of Auckland's website. Our trees are not yet old enough to fruit.

Hue flower

Te Mära Reo, c/o Benton Family Trust, "Tumanako", RD 1, Taupiri, Waikato 3791, Aotearoa / New Zealand
Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License.