This article was published in the Titirangi Tatler, December 2009
A common plant of the Titirangi coastline is Machaerina sinclairii, a robust sedge which forms bright, glossy clumps. From it extend tall bronze pendulous flower spikes which move gracefully in the wind. Machaerina sinclairii has the Maori name of either pepepe or toetoe tuhara. It clumps to a height of about a metre and spreads out to 1.5m. Occurring throughout the North Island, tuhara's broad, glossy, strap-like leaves give a distinctive tropical look to the under-storey of the New Zealand bush.
More at home in a damp seepage on exposed slopes of coastal cliffs, tuhara can be found at higher altitudes or in dense forest, alongside river banks or in cave mouths. While it favours cool, moist sites, it will tolerate drier conditions.
Related to the wide range of New Zealand's sedges and cutty grasses, tuhara is probably the most ornamental. It is certainly elegant, providing a lush look for the home garden, and it also makes a wonderful indoor pot plant. On many sites it can be used as a replacement for agapanthus. Perhaps plant rengarenga (rock lily, Arthropodium cirratum) in front of it for a pleasing contrast.
Florists and flower arrangers use both the flower spikes and the cut foliage in flower arrangements as they look stunning and stay fresh for weeks.