Ngāi Tahu has had a long and special relationship with Taramea (Aciphylla aurea). This is recognised through its listing as a taonga species in the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998.
Taku hei piripiri
Adorned with richly perfumed moss,
Festooned with sweet smelling fern,
Embellished with aromatic sap,
My fragrant locket of evocative piercingTaramea
Traditionally Taramea leaves were gathered, plaited and the base of each plait was singed over embers until the heat forced the gum to the top, where it was collected. The gum was then mixed with animal fat, such as refined pigeon or muttonbird oil.
Fragrant sachets took their names from the materials composing them. For example, hei raukawa, hei piripiri, hei tawhiri, hei mapuna, hei mokimoki, kati taramea, pona tarata, etc.
Perfumed oil produced in this way was highly valued and was used for barter for food and greenstone, and as koha between rangatira.
After more than three years of research, Kati Huirapa Runanga and TRONT have developed three fragrances from Taramea that we are taking into the retail market to test response from customers. This is a pilot project and depending on it’s success we aim to develop a sustainable business to reinvigorate and share the Ngāi Tahu cultural practice of perfume-making with the world while retaining cultural authenticity for Ngāi Tahu.
The three fragrances - Taramea & Wood, Taramea & Water and Taramea & Herb, are available for purchase at the price of $32.00 per bottle (or $96 for the set), from the Runaka Office in Karitane. Please call Justine at 03 465 7300 for more information, or call into the office to try them.