Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

Phyllocladus trichomanoides. Tānekaha. Celery pine. Main reference.
FAMILY: Podocarpaceae
BOTANICAL NAME: Phyllocladus trichomanoides
MĀORI NAME: TĀNEKAHA, ahotea, nīko, tāwaiwai (Taylor 1855, 1870). All recorded in Williams 1971.
COMMON NAME: celery pine
MEDICINAL: Leaves used for scrofulous diseases (Kerry-Nicholls 1886).
Tannin in bark a valuable astringent in dysentery (Kirk, in Taylor 1870 and 1889; Neil 1889).
Said to be used for dysentery. Probably it is the bark which contains 23-28% of tannin which is used (Mason 1941)
See Brooker, Cambie, and Cooper 1987 for medicinal use of (+)-inositol, component of heartwood.
DYES: Red dye for kaitaka. Process described. (Wade 1842 ; Dieffenbach 1843).
Black or brown dye from the wood and bark (New Zealand Journal 1846; (Taylor 1855).
Bark used to stain flax samples. Flax stained with toatoa in exhibition, Colonial Museum, 1871. (Samples also shown in New Zealand Exhibition 1865).
Bark an excellent dye, yellowish-pink or red-brown, which can be successfully combined with other dyes. Used for tanning nets. To make the dye a good pink, the weed called kākāriki (?) is bruised into a pulp and added. With bruised pūriri bark, a good yellow is made (Brett's Guide 1883 ; Colenso 1869a ; White, quoted in Aston 1918b, from ms. in Dominion Museum).
Tanning bark (Reed and Bretts 1874).
Dark red dyes of various shades used in dyeing yarns for decorated borders of best flax garments, and in staining superior furniture, walking sticks etc. (Colenso 1882b).
Red dye used by Māori. Bark used in New Zealand tanneries (Kirk, in Taylor 1870, 1889 ; Neil 1889).
Highly valued by tanner (Kirk 1889).
Process for obtaining red dye described in Best 1899.
The bark which gives the deepest dye is obtained from older trees with a thick bark which grow in sunny places (Te Rangi Hiroa 1911).
Gives durable dyes (Aston 1918b)
Brown dye (Wall, Cranwell 1943).
DOMESTIC: Red young saplings made valued walking sticks (Colenso 1869a).
Taupo Māori used bark for small water containers (Best 1942).
Wallace 1989 found 2 bowls, 3 fernroot beaters, 2 mauls, 3 adze helves, 1 eel club, 1 teka made of Phyllocladus spp. among museum artefacts he tested. Seemingly an unusual choice for mauls because the wood is light. But mauls found waterlogged in swamps - may have been kept wet as then their density increases markedly (p.226)
CONSTRUCTION: Timber tree. Decking. Posts. (Colenso 1869a) (N.B. - details on post-European timber uses generally not recorded in this database).
FISHING AND HUNTING: Fish hooks from young twigs, very tough, durable and heavy (Kirk, in Taylor 1870; Best 1903)
Among Ngāpuhi, tānekaha bark and water left in hollowed out canoes - tanning material filled cracks in bark. Best timber for canoe masts (Best 1925).
Used for canoe poles (Wakefield, in Best 1925).
Young trees supply excellent poles for handles of scoop nets for kehe, and fishing rods for warehou (Te Rangi Hiroa 1926)
CHEMISTRY: Essential oils, leaf alkanes, heartwood, bark tannins examined, listed in Cambie 1976, 1988 with references.
TRADITIONS: 'In a district such as Rua-tahuna, where the toatoa-trees are few, they were much prized, and had special names.' Te Kiro-o-te-Rangi-tu-ke is a lone toatoa situated on the Tahua-roa Range. Te Kiri-o-Koro-kai-whenua is a tree at Te Weraiti. Only the descendants of these two ancestors may take bark from those trees (Best 1899).