Well we are in the winter months now ... this is a shot from my backyard, looking towards the Mt Kau Kau communications mast ... YEAH RIGHT. It is there behind the low clouds and mist. The image gives you a good impression of the little boxes on the hillside amongst the green and rugged landscape of parts of Wellington.
In the foreground on the right you will note the flax flowers. For centuries, Māori had collected the abundant nectar from the flowers to make a crude honey and to generally sweeten foods, but it was the myriad of medicinal uses that made the plant so important to the everyday health of Māori. Flax roots were boiled and crushed and applied externally as a poultice for boils, tumours and abscesses, as well as to varicose ulcers. Juice from the pounded roots was widely used as a disinfectant, and taken internally to relieve constipation or expel worms. It was also applied to bullet or bayonet wounds.
The gum-like sap produced by flax contains enzymes that give it blood clotting and antiseptic qualities to help healing processes. Though unaware of the enzymes, Māori were fully aware of its curative properties and that it is a mild anaesthetic, and widely applied the sap to boils and various wounds, to aching teeth, to rheumatic and associated pains, to ringworm and various skin irritations, and especially to scalds and burns.
Our native bird, the tui loves to suck the nectar out of these. The latin name of the Tui is Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae but it used to be called the Parson bird because at first glance the Tui appears completely black except for a small tuft of white feathers at its neck and a small white wing patch, causing it to resemble a parson in religious attire.