Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

Hedycarya arborea. Pigeonwood. Porokaiwhiri.
FAMILY: Monimiaceae Monimia family
BOTANICAL NAME: Hedycarya arborea
PREVIOUS NAMES: Hedycarya dentata .
MĀORI NAME: POROKAIWHIRI, and variants - porokaiwhiria, pōporokaiwhiri (Taylor 1870), pōporokaiwhiria, poroporokaiwhiria, kaiwhiri, kaiwhiria, kawiria (State Conservator of Forests 1877)
COMMON NAME: pigeonwood
MEDICINAL: Used in medicated vapour bath (Goldie 1905 ; Taylor 1848 and 1870 ; Bretts Guide 1883).
Related pharmacology in Brooker, Cambie and Cooper 1987. See also Riley 1994.
DOMESTIC: Among museum artefacts he tested, Wallace 1989 found a spade shaft, 4 kō, a teka and 2 wakahuia made of porokaiwhiria.
CHEMISTRY: Alkaloids in leaves, bark and berries (Cambie 1976, 1988)
TOXINS: Known to cause poisoning to stock (Allan 1944, notes on fodder value of New Zealand trees and shrubs).
PASTIME: 'The Hauhaus at the Hikurangi meeting were called to their place of worship by the beating of the pahu; it is a long, sonorous piece of wood, made (when possible) from an aromatic tree called porokaiwhiria (Hedycaria dentata). It is hung from a cross pole supported at either end by a forked stick. The sound may be heard to an extraordinary distance. It is produced from this rough kind of wooden drum being beaten on its edges by several persons furnished with short batons.' (Potts 1879)
See section on musical instruments in Best 1925. Sticks of this wood used in the stick game, tī rākau. Mair describes rehu (flutes) made of pigeonwood. Wood used for mouthpiece of shell trumpets, 'it being very sonorous' (Colenso). Also used for best loud-sounding drums or gongs - pahu. Used to make kororohu (whizzers). Also pakuru, pakakau, kikiporo - straight sticks tapped with a smaller piece.