Traditional Remedies from New Zealand

| Modified on Apr 23, 2024
New Zealand Traditional Folk Medicine

New Zealand is a beautiful part of the globe boasting mountains, lakes, shorelines, subtropical forests in addition to glaciers and volcanoes. This lovely land is a sought after backdrop for movies and television programs. But not only is New Zealand beautiful, the variety of plants that grow there have many uses, including medicinal ones. The majority of the plants that grow in New Zealand are native only to New Zealand.

With a varied landscape and unique plants, this country lends itself to natural remedies specific to its location.

Manuka honey, a highly acclaimed healing honey is produced by bees that pollinate the leptospermum scoparium plant, which is a small tree or bush, more commonly known as manuka or tea tree, which is indigenous to New Zealand.

Koromiko is an herb native that New Zealand that is used for digestive problems, dysentery, and to stop external bleeding.

The inner bark of the rimu tree has been traditionally used externally for burns, wounds and ulcers of the skin.

Continue reading to learn more traditional folk remedies reported from our readers who live in New Zealand. Make sure not to miss Michael's entertaining and informative posts!

Kiwi Remedies

2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Michael (New Zealand) on 09/19/2016

Folk Remedies from New Zealand (new section). (N.B. Kindly note (and watch out) that the Australians will take the credit for some of these!! )

We have long had a SALVE over here which is termed a "Medicated Ointment" and its status borders on the "National Treasure" category level for many Kiwis.....If I am unable to name it, I should tell you that it contains Camphor, Menthol and Eucalyptus Oil! We use it for cuts, burns, sores, catarrh, head colds, coughs and colds, spasmodic croup, earache, headache, muscular pains, aching joints and it is great for mosquito bites too (although they don't seem to make that claim for it strangely enough). It comes in a quaint, old-fashioned tin like in the olden days.

2) If you feel a COLD/COUGH/FLU/SORE THROAT coming on, take a teaspoon of each of the following in a mug: Lemon juice (from your garden if possible), ACV (with mother/organic etc), Organic Molasses, Manuka Honey (or honey), Rum or Whisky. Put a little good quality, cold water in, mix it all up and then fill the rest of the tumbler with hot water such that you can safely drink it. As we would say Down Under "A couple of those a day should see you right mate". If you can catch this in time it sure can make a difference. Maybe you can save money by leaving the rum out of the brew if giving to the ankle biters though!

EC: Michael, yes, please tell us the name of your treasured Medicated Ointment!

Replied by Michael
(New Zealand)

...and the secret is ...............da, da, da, dah!! Wait for it... "Rawleigh's Medicated Ointment". We could NOT imagine life without our RMO. (It surely beats GMO every time!! ). This is NOT a commercial but a requested response from our Dear Leader.

Replied by Art
2182 posts

Sounds amazingly like our Vicks Vaporub over here!


Drug Label Information

Active ingredients Purpose
Camphor 4.7% Cough suppressant & topical analgesic
Eucalyptus oil 1.2% Cough suppressant
Menthol 2.6% Cough suppressant & topical analgesic


Replied by Michael
(New Zealand)

3) FLAX OIL from flax grown in New Zealand claims many benefits. It is apparently one of the richest plant sources of Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids (EFAs). Although essential, we cannot manufacture them within our own bodies and must obtain them from dietary sources.

A sign of possible deficiency might include any of the following symptoms:chronic inflammatory disorders, brittle or soft nails, wound healing poor, dry hair/dandruff, dry or cracked skin, joint aches and pains and even weight management problems. There may be others I may have missed.

4) EMU (bird) OIL is an Australian product, strictly speaking (ouch, that one hurt! ), although in recent decades we have established emu farms in New Zealand. We had the Moa (2nd biggest bird in the World! ) but not the Ostrich or the Emu sadly. We are told that the Australian Aborigines used emu oil for lots of health benefits. It is supposed to be wonderful for Arthritis and skin issues, such that some folks swear by it. The oil is claimed to be wonderful for a huge, long list of ailments but I am not going to vouch for them by personal experience. I would appreciate member feedback on this one.

Replied by Michael
(New Zealand)

5) "VEGEMITE" is an Australian invention (ouch), which has become an icon on the menus of both Aussies and Kiwis over a generation or three. Kiwis who run out of it when travelling overseas on their "O.E."(o'seas experience), will write desperate, pleading letters home insisting that their parents or friends urgently send them extra supplies! Rather attached to it-you bet! It seems to have become ingrained into our cultures. Vegemite is a dark-brown, food paste made from left over brewers' yeast extract. It is one of the richest sources of the B Vitamins, esp.Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin and Folic Acid and has 2.3% Potassium. There is no Vit.B12 unless you have the "low salt" version when you are gettting extra Vit.B 6 also. The main ingredient is Yeast extract with a high content of Glutamic acid, which is what I believe gives it its distinctive flavour. There is no fat, added sugar or animal content: it does contain Gluten. Normal Vegemite has a 3.45% Sodium content which = a Salt content of approximately 8.6%!! The "low salt" version claims to offer 25% less salt. We spread it on our bread, crackers, biscuits and toast and positively yearn for the stuff. When the factory broke down in Christchurch after the earthquake, there was a gnashing & grinding of teeth and a tearing of hair until supplies were eventually restored. Whew!


Replied by Hisjewel
(America, New York)

Hi Michael,

EMU is my mothers favorite choice to rub around her knees. She says it moves the pain better than anything she knows. I told her she should give castor oil a try too.

Thanks sharing some history with your findings,


Replied by Jacqueline C
(Melbourne Au)

Hello Michael,

I'm new to EC - hence my long-delayed message. I couldn't resist taking the bait and asking you why an Aussie wouldn't make a small claim to a major ingredient in your salve? Or is it possible you import Eucalyptus from California?

If you are including the Pavlova recipe you Kiwis have clung to with all your might, in your list of our claims on NZ enterprises, here's a friendly reminder that the prize for that delectable desert belongs to Madam Pavlova, who was a TOURIST to your country.

We also freely admit that 50% of the Crowded House band were Kiwis. Was there anything else?? Thanks for your input here, I've enjoyed each of your contributions. Love from Oz

(New Zealand)

That's good Jacqueline!

Glad you have joined up to this Site.

Deal is.... you can have the credit for Eucalyptus and Emu Oil, if we get the credit for Manuka Honey and Tea Tree oil.

Fair Dinkum/Fair Go I reckon!


Makuna Honey

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Shelby (Vancouver, Wa) on 01/28/2017

My 13 year old Lhasa has several fatty lipomas. She had 1 that started pea sized under her elbow. It grew to marble size in 2 months. I put Makuna honey on the skin above the tumor 2xs/day. I also let her eat some. The fatty lipoma disappeared in 5 days. I'm now treating another shrunk 1/3rd of the size in 2 days. Use New Zealand Makuna honey that is at least 5+ UMF. 10+ is considered medicinal.

Manuka Honey

Posted by Michael (New Zealand) on 06/23/2017

Dear Diary,

List of things for me or New Zealand to accomplish this coming week:

1) To-day: Venture out to buy more Borax, ACV, Molasses and Manuka Honey and any other "must haves" I am about to run out of. Pity about the rain. No-drop the honey-can't afford it. Ridiculous!

2) Saturday: Looking forward to the All Blacks beating the British and Irish Lions rugby team at Eden Park. The one with the funny shaped ball.

3) Next week: Take the Auld Mug, aka the America's Cup, back home to Auckland where it rightfully belongs. Somebody pinched it off us a while back. Can't trust anybody these days.

4) Let E.C. know that three school boys from the South Island are claiming to have found the cure for the dreaded pimple in their school lab ! They say that Manuka Oil is the new wonder cure but I "wonder" if those darned Aussies got there first (darn it! ) with their Tea Tree Oil. Ought we to tell them? We shouldn't discourage the youth: good on them for trying: I wish them well. Keep an eye out for their product coming to a store near you.

5) Help those long-suffering Americans to design a fair and equitable Health Care Plan for the Nation. They got to the Moon but are struggling with this one! Priorities?

Quite a busy week ahead I guess-better eat a sustaining breakfast and get ready. My wife is asking if I want some porridge? Should I or not? Difficult decision. I don't know.



Medical Costs Itemized

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Michael (New Zealand) on 10/12/2020

Fascinating to learn a bit more re. your "Affordable Care Act" and "Obama Care" trials and tribulations over there! Good luck with that one when it gets to the Supreme Court!

Some of you are possibly labouring under the unfortunate misapprehension that everything is free over in the "Land of Milk and Money" but it "Aint necessarily so", as the song goes!

One could sum up by saying that our system relies on people looking after themselves (and largely paying for their own medical expenses) on a day to day basis, with the proviso that SOME drugs, medicines and doctors visits are subsidized to some extent (i.e. certainly NOT free).

Only after (sometimes) languishing on a long waiting list, can you get elective surgery done on the public system (if you are lucky - certain criteria apply). If the Country is short of money, surgeons or hospital beds you can actually be taken OFF the waiting list, especially if you are considered too old or too sick (really - it's a sort of rationing of resources aparently! ). HOWEVER, if you have serious cancer or heart condition or whatever, and could be expected to benefit from intervention, then you are marvellously whisked away and dealt with very professionally at NO COST, which is pretty amazing in this day and age.

Recently, I had a whole raft of expenses hit me at the same time, which was a bit of a shock to that bank balance I used to have.

The following have been translated into the type of dollar that Uncle Sam would understand and appreciate :-

Medical test for Driver's Licence Renewal $US16.75

Driver's Licence Renewal $12.53

New glasses $536.00 (using old frames)

Dentist check up with x rays $53.60 (i.e. no fillings - yippee!! )

(to put the above into context, a Dentist's quote for a crown

could be as high as $938.00!! ).

So there you go. America needs a Public Health system of some sort in this day and age. The pressure for even a "basic safety net" type one will prove overwhelming one day I feel certain!

Cheers from Down Under


New Zealand Balm

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Michael (New Zealand) on 08/20/2021

Hello Karin from Italy,

For either Eczema or Rosacea I would use what we use over here! Also for itchy, cracked or dry skin.

This is a Balm made from the following ingredients, which you would apply in very small amounts (a smear) three to five times per day using a very clean finger: avocado oil, horopito, poroporo, kumerahoe, kawakawa, chickweed, unbleached New Zealand beeswax, NZ grown lavender oil, golden-seal, licorice root, calendula, Vitamin E, grapefruit seed extract, and zinc.

Worked for a bout of Rosacea on me many years ago- brilliant!

Cheers from Down Under

(P.S. Could E.C. kindly include this in New Zealand folk remedies please- thanks).

New Zealand Maori Medicine

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Michael (New Zealand) on 09/19/2016

More than 200 plants were used medicinally by Māori. Harakeke (flax), kawakawa, rātā and koromiko had many recorded uses.

Harakeke (flax)

  • The leaf or root was pulped, heated and put on boils.
  • The hard part of the leaf was used as a splint.
  • Umbilical cords were tied with scraped flax.
  • Sore backs were heated by the fire and then strapped up with a flax belt.
  • A bad cut was sewn up with muka (flax fibre), using a sharpened stick.
  • When someone had tutu-tree poisoning, a flax gag was crammed in their mouth to stop them biting their tongue – or their throat was brushed with flax on the end of a stick to make them vomit.
  • The juice of the root was used to kill intestinal worms, and as a purgative.
  • (N.B.Tutu, and Ngaio were poisonous. Karaka berries were also poisonous but Maori cleverly perfected a laborious method of extracting the poison so that they could safely ingest them.)

Maori Traditional Medicine mentioned here:-

Rhys Jones, 'Rongoā – medicinal use of plants', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 20 September 2016)

Full story by Rhys Jones, published 24 Sep 2007

Replied by Michael
(New Zealand)


Gather round! Once there was a Maori Chief, Harehare who recited this tale of the warriors who were fighting with the Government deep in the New Zealand bush (forest) in 1871.They became very hungry when their rations ran out and, as was frequently the case with the old time Maori when food got scarce, were forced into resorting to digging and eating Fern Root when the bacon and biscuits (in this case) ran out. This fern root "aruhe" or "roi" was very starchy when pounded and was not particularly palatable and the gritty bits from the soil could grind down your teeth after too much of it but at least it could sustain life! But on a hungry, cold winter's night, deep in the mountainous bush, his frustrations overcame him and he burst forth in a memorable composition, which the Arawa Tribe made into a lively, Haka, action song.

"The leader came dancing towards his commanding officer holding out a piece of bark on which he placed a "komeke" or cake of roasted fernroot and this is the song he chanted, with his men joining in in a great chorus to appropriate action. I translate from Harehare's Song:- "Captain, captain, here is your food, A plate of fernroot! See what the Government gives us in its great, loving kindness! The Pakeha soldiers eat mutton and beef, they drink Government rum, They are safe in their redoubts. We roam the forests and climb the mountains; We measure the country with our feet; We chase Te Kooti, we chase Kereopa; We are the fighters! We are weary and hungry, And what do we get to eat? Fernroot ---fernroot! We live on Hinau berries like the birds, We live on fernroot like the pigs; We root like pigs, we pound the fernroot. We are hungry for Government meat, The food of the warrior; We dig with our bayonets For fernroot---fernroot! "

Ref. "Tales of the Maori Bush" by James Cowan pub. by A.H.& A.W.Reed 1934

Palm Oils

Posted by Michael (New Zealand) on 11/12/2021

Hi there Posters!

Here is something else for you guys to WORRY about !!

Are all vegetable OILS created equal?

Just because it's natural, does that mean it's O.K. then??

Thought EC members ought to be made aware of what is reported to be a recent, well-researched study.

Gleaned from "New Zealand Herald" reporting information.

Will this new knowledge lead to decreased deforestation in the tropical rain-forests?

Don't hold your breath.

Cheers from Down Under

Pink Eye Treatment

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Michael (New Zealand) on 12/11/2021

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) (from a New Zealand perspective / I am writing this with one eye closed..... so it's half a perspective I suppose)

I suspect that I acquired this affliction from my recent gardening activities. When I mentioned to an old pharmacist fellow that the bugs in our soil are probably not always our friends, he responded by saying that i/3 are good little critters, 1/3 are pretty neutral and 1/3 somewhat antagonistic! Of course I wear a mask before diving into a bag of potting mix or seed raising mixture but maybe I should wear goggles as well? Good grief! The molds are a cause of concern these days and are under-rated when it comes to being detrimental to our health. I find it awkward to wear gloves whilst gardening but do a lot of hand washing afterwards. We have had the odd case of Legionnaires' Disease here in the past.

Take anti-bacterial eye drops every 2 hours for three days

Ditto four times per day afterwards

Ditto for 24 hours after getting back to "normal"

Eye bath with

“Optrex” / Witch Hazel several times per day for relief

Warm Cloth to get red and white blood corpuscles moving towards the eyes (apparently they need encouragement)

Increased water consumption

Replace towels, flannels and pillow cases daily#

Avoid close human contact (elbow zaps instead of hand shakes please! )

Don’t use other people’s bathroom stuff (or let them use yours- don't))

Avoid cross-contamination between your two eyes

Eat fresh, organic Carrots, Carrot juice, Beets / Beetroot, Spinach, Swiss Chard etc

I have been eating four Manuka honey sandwiches a day (and I don't normally eat any).

Use warmed Chamomile tea bags on the closed eyes (water must be pure of course)

Use tiny amount of excellent quality coconut oil smear or Manuka honey smear on the closed eyelids with care

Be aware that it might be a virus OR it might be bacterial in origin.

These home remedies will tackle either but antibiotics will only target bacteria (maybe??!! )

Some anti-bacterial eye drops have now reduced effectiveness – surprise surprise!!

Hence the need to self-medicate every two hours instead of the formerly advised four times per day

4 X per day will no longer “Cut the Mustard” at least for the first three days

Peruse the "Pink Eye" section on E.C. for more info. to assist you.

Pink eye is a very common affliction - most people recover and go on to lead useful and productive lives!

#“Pink eye is quite contagious. Wash hands before and after touching eyes to treat them. Hands should be washed any time the eyes are touched. Wash pillowcases daily and use a vinegar rinse to avoid reinfection”. (E.C. attribution)

Cheers from Down Under

Post Nasal Drip

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Michael (New Zealand) on 08/08/2022

Hi there EC Editor - it's me again!

Below is an extract taken from your passage on this (EC) Site concerning Post Nasal Drip:-

All well and good so far as it goes but my favorite pharmacist asserts that, "Quite often a person will not realize that 'e is suffering from this condition, even though experiencing other symptoms consistent with same - as they do not feel anything actually going down the throat even though it is". Now there's a conundrum!

I came away with some Codral lozenges with advice that I might need to embark on a course of anti-histamines but have struggled on without the latter, as I am not a great fan of them, except if desperate. So back to the Codral lozenges, Manuka Honey lozenges, Salt water gargles and sucking on a lump of Coconut for as long as I can keep it in mouth, especially prior to retiring for the night. No phlegm or such, just a dry hacking intermittent cough with attendant sore throat. Also gets into the URT a bit further down unfortunately.

Now here's the rub though. You will struggle to find a doctor in this neck of the woods and as I was not actually in a comatose state, I was referred to the nice lady ('phone) nurse who was most sympathetic but claimed that it "Was a virus doing the rounds and that some people took MONTHS to shake it off". Thank you very much - is there no end to one's suffering these days?

Here is the relevant EC passage for your perusal & to wisely ponder upon:-

Post-nasal drip is a condition of the mucus membranes of the sinuses, which causes the presence of a liquid dripping feeling down the back of the throat. While specific treatment of the condition depends on the cause of the problem, natural treatments offer relief whatever the cause.

Cheers from Down Under

Sore Throat Spray

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Michael (New Zealand) on 07/08/2021

I have been mulling over the sore throat problem and there is a natural, non-alcohol based, throat spray available over here which claims to possess the following ingredients FYI:-

"Honey, echinacea (antiseptic properties), colloidal silver (ditto), blackcurrant juice (anthocyanins (?)/ antioxidants) for its high vitamin C content, plus a dash of peppermint oil".

I know these (separate) ingredients are fondly regarded by many posters.

It would NOT be suitable for infants under two years of age (cos of the honey content).

I am wondering if this information would be useful to sore throat sufferers.

Cheers from Down Under where we are in the middle of the "Sniffs, Snuffles and Sneezes" season.

Over to you then!

Tea Tree

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Michael (New Zealand) on 09/19/2016

Tea Tree or Manuka from New Zealand

Manuka (or Red Tea Tree) is the smaller tree/shrub/bush and Kanuka (or White Tea Tree) is the much taller, tree version. The early European adventurer and sea captain, Captain James Cook pioneered the protective measures taken to prevent Scurvy (lack of Vitamin C) on the ship "Endeavour", partly by giving his crew lemon juice etc. However, when he reached New Zealand he brewed a "tea" using "Tea" tree or Manuka leaves (hence the name). He also brewed beer with it, which was nutritious as well as making you smile.

In addition, we still have Scurvy grass near some of our beaches which he forcibly fed to his crew, which also helped them resist scurvy on long voyages. You do NOT want to get scurvy!! One French voyager was loosing one man every day when he visited New Zealand in 1769 because he did not know this medical fact! His men must have died horribly.

The Olden Days

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Michael (New Zealand) on 06/17/2021

For a journey back in time.....I can remember, when we were young, the awful pandemics of Polio and T.B. etc and the miracle cures that arrived just in time..... for some of us. Others were not so lucky and got crippled or ended up in iron lungs. I guess that's why I have little sympathy for the anti-vaccination crowd. Maybe you just have to live through these times to gain a fear of what viruses etc can do and how powerful they are.

I have been tidying up this week and re-discovered my Polio vaccination card - such a hoarder am I!! We got four jabs! I was amused to discover that there was a space on the card reserved for "parental consent". In it my Mum had written "any vaccine available" so she must have been keen! My Mum had a strict "one child policy" before the Chinese even thought of it.

When it came to scalp problems we might (no pun intended here) have had a puff of DDT sprayed on our noggin at our school!! "Line up there!! " or more likely, a dunking in a Detol bowl rather like what the farmers do with their sheep (dipping).

In one house I lived in, we had no electricity and in another, we had no inside running water. There was one tap in the outside shed and a well right next to the outside loo. The protocol for getting a once-a -week bath, was to hop on the bicycle, peddle up the hill for a half mile, hand over two and sixpence to the lady of the house and have a nice warm bath - luxury.

Otherwise, to fix a scalp problem, one just dived head first into a bucket of cold water brought up from the well and held one's head under for as long as you could and sort of frizzled one's hair about. It usually stopped the itching pretty well. We must have been operating on the KISS principle before that acronym had been invented.

We have finally got rid of our wool carpets and gone for synthetic ones. We would have much preferred wool, as New Zealand used to be the happy home of seventy million sheep but the carpet beetle had caused such damage to the old one that we didn't wish to go there again.

Now you know how old I am, how old are you?

Cheers from Down Under


Just thought you should know.

Replied by Marshagail

Vaccines have & do cause more health problems than they "cure". Unfortunately big pharma & their toxic "medicines/vaxes" have become Big money & misery makers. Hopefully you've learned a valuable lesson from the deadly "covid" shots & are much more cautious in degrading anti-vaxers. Namaste.