When Maori arrived to New Zealand, they found a giant runner bird which they called «moa», one polynesian term used to designate the hens. Taking advantage of the lack of wings of these birds, its hunting was quite simple : just a blow to the head and being a little careful not to be kicked. Adding to this,its low speed when it comes to reproduction caused its destruction by Maori in less than 200 years, which extends from the arrival of the Polynesian people in 1350 until the mid fifteenth century , when it was estimated that moa cleared off , according to the fossils found throughout the country . No oral tradition or Maori legend includes moas, perhaps because of its rapid extinction , but from this experience Maori learned something very important which included in their culture : do not spoil nature resources.
As an example of application of this philosophy , we find the development of Maori on the East Coast, where a good part of the 600 000 maori of New Zealand live.
The treaties signed in the mid -nineteenth century between the British and Maori tribes, recognized their ownership of land , in exchange for accepting British sovereignty . From all this have retained only a small part of the soil , but most of it in manuka forest area . When in the 80s of XX century , researchers at a New Zealand university , confirmed the antibacterial properties present in Manuka honey , higher than elsewhere , a new sustainable way of living life arose in this area for maori tribes : beekeeping.
Income of 50 million US dollars per year obtained from the export of this honey has allowed this community to employ part of its population in beekeeping. Until then, local farmers who lived on livestock, fisheries and forestry activities obtained a low economic returns. Now it´s clear that only proper management of resources can make wealth continue for long.
– The tea tree or manuka bush ( Leptospermum scoparium )
It is a small tree or shrub , fast growing , often reaching 3 or 4 feet tall ,which colonizes coastal and lowland New Zealand, preferring moist soils but supports seasons of drought. Tolerates wind, but no shadow.
They were considered undesirable shrubs by the first Europeans , who preferred to remove them , clean fields and dedicate them to pasture. For many years they have been victims of the flames , but now beekeepers are responsible to avoid this , and now manuka bushes are good allies to reforest land and eroded slopes . By creating shade and shelter from the wind, manuka bushes provide excellent shelter for the development of other native plants , with slower growth, and that when they grow up , smother with his shadow on the manuka . Another positive feature is that the leaves of this tree do not like to cows , goats or sheep, another good reason to be included in reforestation work .
When first Europeans arrived, manuka leaves were used as tea substitute , hence its common tree name. Sawdust wood is used for smoking fish and meat. Wood and bark are used to make utensils or waterproof roof insulation. Manuka flowers are not only a good source of pollen for bees, but for the rest of pollinators.
The antibacterial properties of honey are due to a compound flower nectar of manuka , methylglyoxal , which is not present in other similar trees, such as Kanuka ( Kunzea ericioides ), with which it is sometimes confused him .
Flowering of manuka bush usually lasts four weeks, a little before that of Kanuka bush, and due to the geography of this country, can range from the months of November to January , when the bees must be well prepared to work .
This is the tree that Maori should take care. Let’s hope for long.