On arrival about 700 years ago Polynesians found the fibre of the native flax superior to anything they had known. Living without metal, or land mammals for hides or clothing (apart from the rats and dogs which came with them), Māori placed a high value on flax, which they used for fishing lines, sails, shelter and clothing. Different varieties had different uses. Some were woven into beautiful cloaks (kākahu), so treasured that they were individually named. This flax in bloom was photographed in Ōkārito, Westland.
Using this item
Department of Conservation
Photograph by Philippe Gerbeaux
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