Topic: King Tawhiao’s fern collection
King Tāwhiao (date unknown-1894)
Tāwhiao was crowned the second Māori King on the death of his father, King Pōtatau, in 1860.
Nāwai rā, ka mārama haere ngā tūpuna ki tō rātou taiao. He rongoā mai i ētehi tupunga. He taonga tuku iho tēnei māramatanga.
Nā Tāwhiao tētehi kaimātai huaota a Charles Jeffs i tohu kia kohia e ia ēnei taurakinga rarauwhe e 20. Kei tēnā kei tēnā tōna rongoā. Nā Jeffs ngā kupu whakamārama i ngā painga, i ngā tūmomo rongoā.
He takoha nā Kingi Tāwhiao rāua ko Te Atakohu tēnei kohinga ki a J.T. Rennie, nō Kānata, he nui nō āna mahi hei rata i waenganui i ngā hapū o Waikato. I ngā tau mutunga o ngā 1880 ka pēhi kinotia te iwi nei ki ngā pānga mai o te raupatu me ngā tahumaero.
King Tāwhiao’s fern collection
Over time, the Tainui people developed an intimate knowledge of their environment. Various plants came to be used as rongoā - for medicinal healing - and this knowledge was passed down the generations.
The collection of 20 pressed ferns shown here reflects a small portion of that knowledge. King Tāwhiao commissioned botanist Charles Jeffs to make a collection of ferns highly valued for their medicinal properties. Jeffs included notes for each on its specific use as rongoā.
In 1888, King Tāwhiao and Te Atakohu (an advisor to the King) presented the collection to J T Rennie, a Canadian doctor who had been working among Tainui, as a token of thanks for his service. At the time, in the late 1880s, the health of many Tainui people was seriously compromised. They were still reeling from land confiscation as well as the onslaught of new types of disease.