Captain Cook named this tree the cabbage tree. He and his sailors brewed beer with cabbage tree and ate the shoots to prevent scurvy (a disease caused by lack of vitamin C. resulting in anaemia and bleeding under the skin.)
This is a multi purpose tree
• Food: the root, stem and top are all able to be eaten and are a good source of starch and sugar.
• Fibre: for weaving into baskets, sandals, rope, rain capes, etc.
• Medicine: the fresh leaves were made into a tea to cure diarrhoea and dysentery
• Chimney: the trunk is so fire resistant that early settlers used it to make chimneys for their huts. However the fallen leaves burn easily and make good kindling.
A Ngāti Tūwharetoa Story - Tī Whakaaweawe
Ngātoroirangi was the high priest and navigator of the Te Arawa canoe. Overwhelmed by vicious freezing temperatures on Mt Tongariro he cried out to his sisters (Kuiwai, Haungaroa, Te Hoata and Te Pupu) to bring fire from Hawaiki. The sisters brought three baskets of fire to revive Ngātoroirangi. They landed in Whakaari (White Island) and then travelled across the Kaingaroa Plains. This name (Kaingaroa - Long time to eat) was given through his sister Haungaroa taking so long to eat her meal at a place called Whakaaweawe, so called through Haungaroa following her companions to punish them for their remarks. They were turned into Tī trees (Cabbage trees), which are still to be seen by travellers, but they always reced as you appear to approach them.
Maori name: Tī Kouka
Common name: Cabbage Tree
Botanical name: Cordyline australis
March 12, 2018 (RNZ)
Botanist Philip Simpson, author of Dancing Leaves: The story of New Zealand's cabbage tree, tī kōuka is an enthusiast.