One of New Zealand’s most distinctive native plants, harakeke is not, botanically, a flax, but a member of the day-lily family. The name flax comes from the fact that the long fibres extracted from the leaves are used in much the same way as those in linen flax (Linum usitatissimum) are used in the northern hemisphere.
Harakeke is one of New Zealand’s most distinctive native plants. It has long, upright, often stiff leaves which can reach up to 4metres in length.
The black flower stalks can grow up to 5 metres tall and the dull red, nectar-filled flowers attract masses of birds in kōanga/spring, particularly tūī and korimako.
Harakeke fibres are used by practitioners of the Māori craft of raranga/weaving to create kete/baskets, whāriki/floor mats and gorgeous kākahu/cloaks as well as taura/ropes.