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Macropiper excelsum subsp. excelsum

Kawakawa is used in the production of sweet Ti-toki liqueur.

You can purchase ready made kawakawa tea or make your own. Pick 2 or 3 leaves and place in a cup of boiled water. Leave to infuse for a minute or two, then drink. Good with lemongrass and ginger added or sweeten if you wish, try it iced in the summer.

House-hold: Dried and burnt leaves are used as an insect repellent. Was used for treating the inside of dwellings and kumara patches.

Traditional: Maori wear wreaths of kawakawa on the head as a sign of mourning. Host people of a marae wave leaves of kawakawa to welcome guests especially at a tangi.

Medicinal The fruit, bark and leaves of the kawakawa all have medicinal properties. One of the most important healing herbs used by Maori and still widely used today.

The leaves were chewed or made into an infusion to treat stomach ailments, bladder problems, the fruits were eaten as a diuretic. The leaves are chewed for toothache.

Externally used to heal cuts, boils, bruises, rheumatism, and nettle stings.

Leaves and bark are boiled in water and the resulting infusion used for the treatment of skin problems such as eczema.

Kawakawa’s stimulating and rejuvenating properties made a good tonic.

Constituents Kawakawa contains myrsticin, related to eugenol, which is a mild antiseptic and dental pain reliever.

The presence of lignans in the smoke generated from burning kawakawa leaves and stems kills insects.


Research MAF Biosecurity NZ have been conducting research since 2008 into the decline of Kawakawa. It is an important shrub for our ecology and is used in coastal restoration planting.

Side effects Do not overindulge as kawakawa has laxative properties and is mildly sedative.