1. (verb) (-tia) to overgrow, choke, overrun.
Ko te whakawhirinaki atu ki ngā whakatakoto o tērā o ngā reo kei te kōwaowao i tō rātou āhei ki te whakaputa whakaaro, he wairua Māori anō kei roto (HM 2/1994:3). / The reliance on the structures of that other language is choking their ability to express their thoughts in a way that is quintessentially Māori.
2. (noun) low vegetation.
I tētahi kokinga anō o te rori, i te taha o te pereti rerewē, ka huri tētahi taha o te kā ki roto kōwaowao, ākuanei he karawata i tahaki atu, i te mea pea kei tūtuki te kā ki taua karawata ka tere tonu te huri a te taraiwa, nā tēnei tonu ka tahuri, ka porepore haere te kā nei, nā te tūtukitanga ki te rākau ka tū (TPH 15/5/1912:4). / At another corner of the road, beside the railway bridge, the car veered to the other side into the vegetation and soon there was a culvert to one side, the driver turned sharply lest he hit the culvert. As a result the car flipped and rolled over and over until it struck a tree and stopped.
3. (noun) hound's tongue fern, Microsorum pustulatum subsp. pustulatum - scrambling or climbing native fern with a thick, fleshy, rambling stem. The long-stalked, very glossy, leathery fronds are strap-like when young, later wide and very deeply lobed. Common in forest and scrub on trees, rocks or dry ground.
Arā anō he aruhe i kainga e te Māori, tae atu ki ngā pihinga o te kōwaowao, te rereti, te mouku, te huruhuru whenua, te koru o te kiokio me te pikopiko (Te Ara 2011). / Māori ate other ground ferns, including the young fronds of hound’s tongue fern, rereti, hen and chickens fern and shining spleenwort. They ate the curled shoots of kiokio and common shield fern.