Kawakawa & Kūmarahou Rongoā Winter Tonic Recipe

I make this Rongoā tonic for my children and I every winter, and they have not suffered with a cold since I began. Both Kawakawa (Macro Piper excelsum) and Kūmarahou (Pomaderris kumeraho) have been used by Māori for generations to treat coughs and colds.  

"In the old days in winter, many Māori families always had a pot of Kawakawa leaves on the stove in simmering water, for the use of those in the family with coughs and colds and chest complains including Bronchitis"  - Rawson, 1984 (Quote extracted from my bible; Māori Healing remedies - Murdoch Riley.)

Kūmarahou is my second favourite Rongoā (I think we all know what my first is!) you may recall a video I made a couple of years ago of how during the Spring months, I use Kūmarahou flowers only as a soap and wash. Kumarahou has actually has clinical studies evidencing its benefit to bronchial conditions like asthma, and is another plant used for generations by Maori.

"The Kūmarahou yielded a medicine very efficacious in the case of coughs and colds in the chest" - Huirua Tito 1907
(Excerpt from Murdoch Riley's Māori healing remedies.)

If you have access to either of these plants then feel free to harvest only as much as needed (and not from trees on the side of the road) using Karakia, intent and thanks. If you are not familiar with a Karakia for harvest, I'm happy to share one of my favourites with you.  Teach the children, and go and make a morning of it. :)


Karakia for harvesting

Nāu nei ngā hua

Hei oranga mō te tangata

Tēnei au e whakaiti nei

Kia ora i tēnei rongoā

Nā e Taane e


If you do not have access to either plant, I have harvested enough for around 100 people. I will be putting these into the orders I receive over the next week on the website - just use the code KKRT when you order, to let me know you would like some!


What you'll need to make your tonic

  • 1 small handful dried Kawakawa leaves (gathered according to Rongoa principles)
  • 1 small handful of dried Kūmarahou leaves (gathered according to Rongoa principles)
  • 1/2 litre of good quality apple cider vinegar
  • 4-6 lemons
  • fresh ginger cut into small bits
  • 3-4 tablespoons of good quality manuka honey


Karakia for making Rongoā

Kakato rau

Tīhore kiri

Tohia ki te wai

Tutua ki te wai

Tahuna ki te ahi



Nau mai te rongoā e


Directions for making your tonic

Place dried leaves in a pot of cold water (approx 3 cups) and bring to a boil for 10-20 minutes. Take off heat and leave to cool for an hour or so.  

While cooling, cut lemons into quarters and place in a 1 litre glass jar (a mason jar is perfect) and add apple cider vinegar, ginger and the dried leaf infusion (including leaves).

Shake well, place lid on firmly and store in fridge to infuse for one week.

Strain everything into a clean glass jar and add honey.

It's ready!

Store your tonic in a closed glass jar in the fridge and take 1-2 tablespoons a day.