Harakeke - Our Name

Harakeke has been operating in Christchurch for over 16 years.  It is with great care and respect that we use the name Harakeke which is a plant native to New Zealand.

Harakeke is of the genus Phormium and is a leaf fibre, while flax is of the genus Linum and is a bast fibre (fibre comes from the stem). The two plants have no relationship to each other, although Harakeke is commonly known as New Zealand Flax. 

I am hugely passionate about the name and meaning behind Harakeke and what it stands for.  We use the name Harakeke because it is strong, thoughtful and represents family. 
I was 21 when the business became my life, since then the business has grown to incorporate my own beautiful family, also the families of our staff and our courier drivers.

For Māori, the fan-shaped harakeke plant represents a whānau (family). This symbolism reflects the importance of the plant in Māori life.

  • The rito, or inner shoot, is likened to a child and is never removed. A family must protect its offspring if it is to survive.
  • The awhi rito, or protectors of the rito, stand on each side. They are seen as mātua (parents). Like the rito, they are never harvested.
  • Only the outer leaves, likened to extended family members, are harvested.

Harakeke fibres are used by practitioners of the Māori craft of raranga/weaving to create kete/baskets, whāriki/floor mats and gorgeous kākahu/cloaks as well as taura/ropes.  We would love to showcase raranga/weaving in our store, so please do contact us if you are a local practitoner.

The plant’s nectar was used as a sweetener, the dried flower stalks were lashed together to make mōkihi (rafts), and the pia (gum) and boiled roots were used for medicinal purposes. 

We follow tikanga (custom) when harvesting harakeke.

Harakeke to me, is not just my business name but also a way of life and a huge part of our local community here in Sumner and Christchurch.