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Letter: Looking for ‘female’ Tiare Māori

Saturday 21 January 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


Dear Editor, Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust is doing some research on the local types of Tiare Māori and Tiare Taina. At present, it looks likely that we have about 10 of each.

I am hoping some of your readers can assist with a particular problem concerning the traditional Tiare Māori or Tahitian gardenia (Gardenia taitensis). During community meetings in 2002, I encountered only two reports of fruits: two on a plant in Tamarua and one on a plant in Ngātangi’ia.

Knowing that this plant bears lots of fruits in its native homeland of Vanuatu, Fiji and Samoa, I concluded that the regular pollinating insect is not present in the Cook Islands, nor in French Polynesia.

However, during the present research I have discovered that this species has separate male and female plants, and all the plants I have inspected/dissected have been male. Of course, none had fruits!

There must be a few female Tiare Māori somewhere on Rarotonga.

If you have been lucky enough to have seen a ribbed, golf-ball sized fruit on an existing shrub could you, please contact me on 24894 or

Kia manuia,

Gerald McCormack


Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust