Piwakawaka Mini Te Mära Reo ~ The Language Garden
*Feki [Proto Central Eastern Polynesian]



Dicksonia squarrosa (Dicksoniaceae)

Alternative names: atewheki, pakue, pëhiakura, tüäkura, tüökura, tio, tirawa, uruuruwhenua. (Apart from the "whekï" element, all originated locally).
Related inherited names:
Wheki-Ponga (see separate page)


This is perhaps the most durable and widely distributed of New Zealand's tree ferns, often the sole survivor after the forest has been cleared. Probably its vegetative mode of reproduction helps in this respect -- it forms clumps by sending out stolons, and felled trunks will often root if they come in contact with the soil. If the crown is damaged, buds near the base will send out roots into the soil and produce new ferns. Despite this toughness and resilience, however, it is less frost-resistant than its close (botanical) relative, the wheki-ponga, and wheki exposed to wind or adverse weather will look much more scraggly than the wheki-ponga, with its somewhat more delicate-looking fronds. Plants reach varied heights, from about two to six metres.

When the fronds are young, their stipes (midribs) are covered with dark-brown hairs, but these diappear as the frond ages, leaving a smooth, shiny surface behind. The old fronds may remain cloaking the upper part of the trunk for a considerable time, when they eventually break off, a few inches of the base remains, encircling and protecting the trunk and giving it a distinctive appearance.

Slabs of the trunk of whekï (tïrongo) were used for lining kumara pits. They were an abundant renewable resource and would have provided excellent insulation.



PCEPn: *Feki Cyathea affinis (Cyatheaceae) & probably other frond-bearing slim-trunked trees

Tahitian: Fë'ï (Musa troglodytarum [Musaceae])
Marquesan: Heki (Cyathea sp. [Cyatheaceae])
Hawaiian: Hë'ï (Ipomoea batatas cultivar [Convolvulaceae]; also Musa troglodytarum [Musaceae] and Carica papaya [Caricaceae] & possibly Cibotium menziesii [Dicksoniaceae]-- see notes on the linked page for *feki )
Rarotongan: 'eki (Cyathea parksiae & C. feani [Cyatheaceae])



Further information

The University of Auckland School of Biological Sciences has a page devoted to the whekï and the whekï-ponga, with many interesting photographs especially of the whekï. There is also a gallery of photographs along with other information about the whekï on the NZ Plant Conservation Network's web site. See also the works on New Zealand ferns by Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth, and H.R. Dobbie.

Photographs. The photograph of the mature whekï is by John Smith-Dodsworth, and is among the photographs on the School of Biological Sciences web site (link above). The other photographs are of whekï in Te Mära Reo.

Hue flower

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