Is Kawakawa's healing power natural magic, scientific fact or traditional rongoá?

All of these are different ways to describe the wonderful healing properties of native Kawakawa.

Used in traditional rongoá remedies for centuries, it was obvious to Máori that Kawakawa contained very special healing actives. Kawakawa has been used to care for sensitive, dry and irritated skin by Máori healers for generation upon generation and there is no doubt that for those suffering from eczema, psoriasis, rashes or dermatitis, Kawakawa balm can soothe or resolve the symptoms, and provide lasting relief.

As well as being an effective skin remedy, Kawakawa leaves can be chewed or made into a tea infusion to treat gastrointestinal stomach ailments, high cholesterol bladder problems, to balance blood sugar and blood pressure, and reduce the pain of tooth aches. In rongoá, Kawakawa was also used for bronchitis, rheumatism, bad bruising, and many other conditions. 

With its aromatic, heart-shaped leaves Kawakawa (Macropier excelsum) was easily recognised as a relative of the famous Pacific Kava plant (Piper methysticum) by Máori when they arrived in New Zealand; and as you would expect, Kawakawa shares some of the medicinal properties of Kava - although not the mild narcotic effect!

Scientists agree - Kawakawa has some amazing medicinal properties

With laboratory testing scientists have also demonstrated that Kawakawa has:

  • Myristicin, a substance related to the antiseptic eugenol

"Myristicin is an anticholinergic agent, meaning it blocks certain nerve impulses. Anticholinergic drugs are used to treat a variety of medical conditions including bronchitis and gastrointestinal disorders."

  • Lignins which are useful in cosmetic and topical skin treatments

"Kawakawa leaves also contain a series of lignans which act as powerful antioxidants in the presence of oil (such as Kawakawa oil), which act as free radical scavengers, and boost skin cell health dramatically."

  • Antimicrobial and analgesic properties useful for reducing inflammation caused by skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and rashes
"Kawakawa extract has been shown to have anti-inflammatory activity." 


  • Antidyspectic actives which can help control dyspepsia and indigestion
  • Antispasmotic properties which can ease cramping and muscle spasms

There's more to this native shrub than meets the eye

Traditionally in Aotearoa, Kawakawa wreaths are worn as a sign of mourning, and used in the powhiri as tangata whenua welcome the manuhiri onto the marae.

As a key healing plant, Kawakawa was heavily employed in the ancient lore of Rongoā Māori, the traditional Māori healing system where ailments are treated in a holistic manner which encompasses the use of herbs with healing in the mental and spiritual worlds. Aspects of rongoā can be explained as taha wairua (spiritual), taha hinengaro (thoughts and feelings), taha tinana (physical), and taha whanau (family).

In essence rongoā endorses a holistic embrace of all aspects of wellbeing - and Kawakawa plays its part in this healing methodology so beautifully. 

We wild-harvest our organic Kawakawa for our all natural remedies using traditional practises - harvesting certain leaves at certain times of the moon cycle, with karakia; as well as replacing used leaves back into the forest, and planting new Kawakawa shrubs to ensure a vigorous and healthy forest.

Explore our range of completely natural, organic Kawakawa remedies.