Tasting like a cinnamon flavoured potato, the underground rhizomes of the Gastrodia orchid have always lured people into searching them out wherever they grow.
The story of Paretuiri, is told in the Tuwharetoa* rohe and tells of how she came by misfortune after hunting for Perei, the potato orchid, whose tubers were harvested for food. Paretuiri had a full bag of the orchids and was heading home when she passed a neighbouring, rival village. Children from the village thought she was carrying kumara stolen from their gardens and alerted the elders. Consequently Paretuiri was chased and killed. When her own people learnt what had happened they exacted revenge.
Maori legend holds that you daren't speak its name. When digging for it in the New Zealand bush, its true name of Perei must never be said aloud, or the orchid will hear its pursuers coming and hide away. No amount of digging will uncover its delicious tubers then. It was not formed of the earth like other vegetables, but was a gift sent by the gods. The term maukuuku is substituted for the one true name so that the orchid won't be "startled".*