Māori also used Mānuka in other ways for their traditional medicine. The vapour from boiled leaves was used for colds, to reduce fever and treat stomach and urinary problems. The sugary gum that oozed from branches – pia Mānuka – was considered a delicacy, and given to babies, used as a moisturiser for burns, or as a cough remedy.
Special quality of Mānuka bark
Water containers came from Mānuka bark, and the inner layers of the bark provided water-proofing under roofs. Extracts of the bark were used as a sedative, mouthwash and for treating diarrhoea, fever, scalds and burns. Mānuka wood was valuable, so Māori didn’t use it for firewood unless they were smoking fish or meat to preserve it. Then the bark ash could be rubbed onto skin to treat skin diseases.
When bush met bees
It wasn’t until Europeans brought beehives to New Zealand that Māori discovered the distinct, delicious taste of Mānuka honey. It took another 150 years or so to discover the science behind that amazing Unique Mānuka Factor, proving what Māori have known for centuries. That Mānuka and the honey it produces truly are wonders.