Botanical name: Austroderia

Other names: Plumed tussock, feathery grass, cutty grass.

This plant is very special to Papatoetoe Central School as it is the school emblem. It is also the namesake of Papatoetoe as it used to grow a lot in the area. It is a native grass of New Zealand.

Habitat: There are 5 types of toetoe, some like to live in damp places like wetlands, others like to live near the sea in sand dunes.

Appearance: It can grow to 3 m tall, with green, flat, sharp-edged leaves from 1 to 3 m long. It has cream flowering stems called a kākaho and grows in clumps.


Use: Māori used the toetoe leaves to make baskets, kites, mats, wall linings and roof thatching. It was also used to make containers to cook food in hot springs. The flower stalks were also useful – as frames for kites, and in tukutuku panelling. The seed heads were used on fresh wounds to stop bleeding.


  • What would you use the toetoe for?
  • Where does it like to live?
  • Why is it important to Papatoetoe and PCS?


More information can be found here:


We would like to acknowledge the contribution of Alana and Jaevan to this research.