Kūmarahou corner

Kūmarahou is a locally occurring species of small native shrub that provides a striking display of golden flowers in early spring – and a valued rongoā for Māori.

In 2021, Peter Maddison and Lawrie Donald used a few waratahs to protect about 10 surviving plants of kūmarahou (Pomaderris kumerahou) on the roadside bank near 273 Lund Road. A small information sign was also installed, to let interested passersby know what they were looking at.

The idea was to protect the vegetation on the corner from the over-zealous attention of the council’s flail mower. This modest barrier has been successful and now (September 2023) more than 60 kūmarahou plants are established.

But, there are still plenty of roadside weeds that want to take over. These include Spanish heath (Erica – 2 species), wattle (Acacia), banksia (Banksia), Montpelier broom (Genista), barberry (Berberis), blue-eyed iris (Aristea), Agapanthus (Agapanthus) and Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster). Some local plants are also establishing well however: morelotia sedge and tauhinu (Pomaderris amoena) – a cousin of kūmarahou (Pomaderris kumeraho.)

Kūmarahou is a valuable rongoā plant for Māori and is reported to be important for all-round health. If the flowers are rubbed with water, this provides a soapy solution – hence the old New Zealand name “gumdigger’s soap”.

There are only a few places within the northern Tauranga Harbour catchments where kūmarahou is found growing naturally. Perhaps the best of these are alongside the road cuttings at the southern end of the Athenree Gorge on State Highway 2. But here the plants are fighting a battle with the gorse bushes!

Project Parore is keen to promote the planting of native low-growing shrubs such as kūmarahou in areas like stream and roadside cuttings. However, the propagation of the seed is difficult (according to some nursery growers). This may be because the seed needs special mycorrhizal root fungi or other soil organisms for successful growth.

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