Updated: Dec 11, 2022
Taupata (Coprosma repens) is a robust little rākau that can withstand the strongest elements. In fact, it seems to thrive in extreme weather conditions. Tāwhirimātea and Tangaroa are its allies in that they support Taupata to be stronger. It enjoys absorbing the minerals in coastal areas that Tangaroa provides and gains strength and hardiness from Tāwhirimātea. Much like the people who live alongside them. If you were to remove Taupata from the ruggedness of its allies, would Taupata change? If you removed a person from the ruggedness of what they have always known, would they change?
Taupata is very similar to its whanaunga Karamu (Coprosma robusta) except Taupata is a coastie. The topside of the leaf is shiny and waxy and is a good way to identify it. It’s waxy so that the sea-salt doesn’t get stuck on the leaf. On the underside of the leaf there are small pits (or houses) at the junctions of the veins called domatia. These domatia are really interesting because they apparently house little insects like mites. These mites help to remove potential fungi on the leaves that might cause harm. It is believed that the plant has evolved to be able to produce these houses (domatia) specifically for the mites to shelter in!
Taupata has been traditionally used by Māori for kidney and bladder inflammation. It also helps to support gut flora.
Taupata grows everywhere on the coast. It’s probably growing in your backyard! If you know the whakapapa of the area that Taupata grows, harvest some leaves and make a tea. Make sure to say a karakia before harvesting. Taupata dries well so it can be stored in a paper bag or your favourite container. I usually dry mine in a kete or basket away from direct sunlight.
To Make a Wairākau:
1. Place about 6 leaves (fresh or dried) in a teapot or coffee plunger.
2. Pour 250 mls of boiled water into the pot
3. Steep leaves for 5-10 mins.
Taupata Wairākau has a mild pleasant taste. Remember that this wonderful sturdy rākau has many minerals and nutrients that revitalises the body.
Please make sure that you can confidently identify all plants before tasting.