Piwakawaka Mini Te Mära Reo ~ The Language Garden
*Naupata [Proto Central Eastern Polynesian; related to Proto Nuclear Polynesian *Nau]

Naupata ~ Taupata


Coprosma repens (Rubiaceae)

Other inherited names: Mämängi, Angiangi (see separate pages)


The New Zealand naupata or taupata is also known as mämängi (an inherited name which it shares with another coprosma, C. arborea), and angiangi (also a heritage name, shared with a widely-distributed lichen, Usnea barbata).

In Aotearoa, the name naupata and its common variant taupata are used only for Coprosma repens, an amazing shrub and tree. Like some of the Scaevola species which have cognate names in other parts of Eastern Polynesia, it is a remarkably resilient plant, with an ability to adapt to a variety of situations - a small, stunted, often prostrate shrub or bizzarely contorted tree growing on or among rocks aparently devoid of soil in exposed coastal situations, or a tree six metres or more high with its dazzling bright-green foliage reflecting the sunlight in a protected situation with rich soil. It is often used as a hedge plant as it will stand an infinite amount of clipping and shaping, and its orange-red berries are highly attractive to birds, and can also be eaten by people, although it seems that they were only occasionally part of the traditional Maori diet, at least for adults. The seeds, although small, can be roasted and provide a potable coffee substitute (the Coprosmas are members of the coffee family, Rubiaceae). Taupata coffee beans have an authentic aroma, although afficianados would be unlikely to prefer the taste of naupata coffee to that of the real thing,

The naupata was one of the Coprosmas associated with cleansing rituals to counteract or forestall spiritual or physical contamination or illness, although other species such as C. robusta and C. lucida were more commonly used for these purposes. The naupata, under its alternative name mämängi, does feature in one proverb: He pü mämängi kï tahi, "A clump of taupata with a single word" -- that is, the berries are ripe in May, indicating definitively that summer and autumn have passed, and the cold season is here. [Meade & Grove, 662]

Taupata Leaf
Naupata - Coprosma Repens
Te Mära Reo

Taupata Leaf
Naupaka - Scaevola seriacea
Lyon Arboretum, Honolulu

PCEP: *Naupata (Scaevola sp. [Goodeniaceae])
Mäori Reflex: Naupata (Coprosma repens [Rubiaceae])

Tahitian: naupata (Scaevola frutescens - Goodeniaceae)
Hawaiian: Naupaka (Scaevola spp.)
Tuamotuan: Naupata (Scaevola spp.)


Naupata - Coprosma repens
(Te Mära Reo)
Naupata - Coprosma repens
(Te Mära Reo)

Further information: Coprosma repens is featured as "Plant of the Month" in the NZ Plant Conservation Network's newsletter, Trilepidea, for November 2009, which includes an amusing account of the meaning of the components of the botanical name. There is also a fact sheet on this species on the Network's web site: at: http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/vascular_plants/detail.asp?PlantID=1776

Source of photographs: R.B.


Hue flower

Te Mära Reo, c/o Benton Family Trust, "Tumanako", RD 1, Taupiri, Waikato 3791, Aotearoa / New Zealand
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