Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

Nestegis cunninghamii. Black maire.
FAMILY: Oleaceae Olive family
BOTANICAL NAME: Nestegis cunninghamii
PREVIOUS NAMES: Olea cunninghamii
MĀORI NAME: MAIRE, maire raunui (Colenso), pau [sic. Solander]
COMMON NAME: black maire; large-leaved maire
DESCRIPTION: Two Nestegis spp. and Mida salicifolia called maire. Used for same purposes. N. cunninghamii and N. lanceolata, along with pūriri, have the hardest timber of any New Zealand tree.

'Two or more very distinct genera, containing several trees (Santalum cunninghamii and Olea sp.) are confounded under this native name: although the natives themselves generally distinguish then pretty clearly, calling the Olea maireraunui. Both were by them called maire, from the fact of both being hard-wooded, and formerly used by them for the same purposes.' (Colenso 1869: 275)

In Tūhoe tradition, two sexes of maire - maire raunui (large-leaved) is the male tree. The female tree is maire rauririki (small leaved). Some traditions outlined in Best 1908.
'..at the south parts of the North Island, Maire is the Māori name of the Olea cunninghamii' (Colenso 1880: 140)
DOMESTIC: Supplied hardwood for war implements and carved walking sticks. See also Mida salicifolia. Cabinetmaking (Colenso 1869a).
Used for wooden spades, digging sticks - hoto, kō, kaheru, pere, tipi. Certain weapons such as wahaika made from roots (Best 1908, 1925, 1927).
Heavy, durable. Favoured for use as a block when cutting greenstone. Sometimes used as weights on drill shafts. (Best 1912).
Used for torches for lighting houses. Smokeless and longlasting. All species of maire used. Details in Best 1925.
Wallace 1989 found 34 fernroot beaters, 2 bowls, 6 mauls, 4 weapons, 3 eel clubs, 10 composite spade blades, 6 ketu, 5 kō, a teka, 4 hoto made of maire among museum artefacts he tested.
CONSTRUCTION: Timber used for beams in storage houses (Best 1916).
Good wood for making pā stockades. Durable, not readily destroyed by fire. Hard to work (Best 1927).
FISHING AND HUNTING: Best 1925: Among Ngāpuhi, used to make wedges for tree felling. Sometimes used on East Coast for canoe paddles (Tuta Nihoniho, ibid). Also canoe bailers.
ENVIRONMENT: The kererū and kokō (tūī) fed in great numbers on the berries, but did not fatten on that diet. (Best 1908)
PASTIME: Best 1925: A preferred wood for making toboggans. Sometimes used for making pahu - gongs. (Tuta Nihoniho, ibid). (Best says this seems unusual.) Used to make roria or jew's harp.
TRADITIONS: If seeds kept in a house in which maire used as fuel, seeds will not germinate when planted. (Best 1908)

The maire is the offspring of Te Pu-whakahara and Hine-pipi (ibid.)
PROVERBS: 'E kore e ngawhere, he maire tu wao, ma te toki e tua' . It will not break (or work) easily, it is a forest-standing maire, the axe alone can fell it' (Best 1908)