While the web site is under reconstruction in 2013, pressing the "Home" button, or clicking on the Tui in the header to these pages will take you to the temporary home page, where you entered this site. Click HERE to return to the "real" home page.

Plants and Plant Names

This is a guide to the pages devoted to information about plants and their names. These form the vast majority of the pages on this site. The way the other sets of pages are organized is explained on the home page for the "Finding Your Way ~ Hōparatanga" menu.

Here are shortcuts to the different sections of this page, so you can skip to a particular section, or find your way back to where you want to go if you get lost!

How the Entries are Organized

Māori Names

Proto-Polynesian Names


How the Entries are Organized

There are three sets of pages about specific plants and plant names -- (1) those dealing with Māori plant names and the plants they refer to; (2) a parallel set explaining the evolution of those names and identifying the plants they have denoted in the past, along with the forms those names take and the plants they refer to in modern Polynesian and sometimes other Austronesian languages, and (3) for the small number of cases where the name and the plant itself arrived in Aotearoa together, the historical, botanical and comparative aspects of the name are all dealt with on the same page.

FONTS: To complicate matters slightly, pages prepared from November 2010 will be using the new template, which means that they will have Geneva, Arial, and Helvetica sans serif fonts (in that order) as the default fonts. This enables us to use characters with in-built macrons which should display properly on any computer. In the older pages, the fonts used are mostly Arial Māori and Times New Roman Māori. These will display the macron if you have those fonts installed on your computer. Otherwise, the macron will appear as an umlaut diacritic (two little dots above the vowel character). If you have the Mäori fonts installed, the macrons on both sets of pages will be displayed correctly. If you don't, the word "Māori" in the previous sentence will look like this: "Mäori". Eventually, all the pages will be converted into the new format, but it will not happen overnight!


Hoki atu ki runga ~ Return to the top of the page



After the general ("Te Māra Reo") heading (like the one at the top of this page for the new ones, or the blander one with the Pīwakawaka "home" button, as in the example below), the first three sections of each page are headings.

These headings are in turn (1) the Proto-Polynesian name, linked to the page discussing that, (2) the Māori name, and (3) the botanical name, genus and species in italics, and family in parentheses. (If you want to see all of the page we are using as an example, click on this link -- it will open in a separate tab or window.)

Opposite these are little boxes giving some coded information - the bottom one shows the sector/s of the garden where the plant can be found. Click on the icon and you will be taken to the garden home page, where you'll find the necessary directions. The other two boxes are usually blank.

These headers are followed by a two-column section, with commentary on the left. On the right there is usually a photograph of (part of) the plant referred to by the Māori name. This photograph is followed by the information about the "Proto-form" -- the ancient word from which the modern word is derived. There is then a list of the words with the same origins in some modern Polynesian languages, and the botanical names of the plants they refer to.

All the "plant name" pages contain this basic information, but some contain a lot more. We hope that eventually all the pages will be similarly informative, but for the moment the names themselves and their origins have to take precedence.


For example, the "aruhe" page has additional photographs, and also quite a long discussion of the place of aruhe and the rauaruhe in traditional Māori life.

This is generally followed by links to further information on the web, and acknowledgements of sources of information and photographs. The final panel shows the flower of the hue, the gourd which was carried throughout Eastern Polynesia and brought to New Zealand at the beginning of settlement, along with our postal address and the "copyright" information. (Clicking on the picture of the hue will take you back to the introductory page.)


Hoki atu ki runga ~ Return to the top of the page



The pages discussing the history the word and its counterparts in other Polynesian languages (and sometimes those from other parts of the Austronesian world) follow a very similar format to those for the Māori name.

The names preceded by asterisks are the reconstructed forms -- we have no direct evidence for these, and the asterisk indicates that this is the most likely form the word took at thar stage of the language (about two thousand years ago, in the case of Proto-Polynesian). Sometimes, as in this example, there are several possibilities, and these are listed separated by the symbol ~ in the website. The two lines following the Proto-Polynesian name contain information about the botanical name, and the history of the word -- in the example, the source word *hulufe is from Proto-Polynesian, and came to Māori through Proto-Tahitic (the common language from which Tahitian, Rarotongan, Tuamotuan and Māori are derived), where it appears to have had the form *aruhe (the same as in modern Māori).

Some words have a longer history, and that will also be summarized on the line under the one with the botanical name of the plant which the Proto-Polynesian word referred to -- as in this example:

More information both about the history of the name and also about the plants to which the word has referred at various stages of its progress to Aotearoa will usually be given in the commentary on the page. The rest of this set of pages follows the same format as those for the Māori words. If you want to see the complete pages from which these examples are drawn, take these shortcuts to the pages for *Halufe and *Futi.

A list of all the Polynesian proto-forms and their Māori reflexes is given on the "index" page; as the information pages for the names and the plants they refer to in Māori are prepared they are linked to this index.

Hoki atu ki runga ~ Return to the top of the page


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