Māori Plant Use

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Plant Use Details 

Dacrycarpus dacrydioides. Kahikatea. White pine. Main reference.
FAMILY: Podocarpaceae
BOTANICAL NAME: Dacrycarpus dacrydioides
PREVIOUS NAMES: Podocarpus excelsus (in Taylor); Podocarpus dacrydioides
MĀORI NAME: KAHIKATEA; katea, kaikatea, koroī, kōaka (Arawa), kahika, names recorded by Taylor 1855, 1870. Kahika also recorded by Shortland as the Ngai Tahu term for kahikatea.
Young tree: kāī (Best 1908).
Hard resinous wood, resin: kāpara, māpara (Nihoniho, in Best 1925)
Fruit: koroī,
A dried kahikatea tree, past fruiting: kena (Williams 1971)
Best fruit: wairarapa (probably Hokianga name. In Servant 1973)
Seed: matau whanaunga (Beever 1991).
COMMON NAME: kahikatea; rimu; white pine
NOTES: Māori claim to recognize two sexes (Best 1942).
MEDICINAL: An infusion of the wood is highly tonic (Taylor 1855).
Bark in recipe for lotion to apply to bruises. Infusion of chips in boiling water good tonic for skin diseases (O'Carroll 1884).
Bark - chewed, causes tingling, numbness of lips. 'Should possess therapeutic properties' (Bell 1890).
Leaves - decoction used for internal complaints (Kerry-Nicholls 1886).
Decoction of leaves used for urinary, internal complaints. Medicated vapour baths (Goldie 1905).
Related pharmacology in Brooker, Cambie and Cooper,1987.
FOOD: Berries eaten (Colenso 1869a, 1869b, 1881 ; Kirk, in Taylor 1870 ; Best 1908 ; Shortland 1851)
Fruit ' a very grateful flavour' (Allom, in Earp 1853).
'The fruit of this pine is similar to that of the Rimu, its wood and resin also have the same qualities as the former.' (Taylor 1847).
Fruit found in abundance every other season. 'Sweet, but without flavour.' The resin contains much saccharine matter, which is found in lumps, of a very sweet and bitter taste. (Taylor 1855).
Wairarapa - described as a white fruit. Probably local (Hokianga) name (Servant 1973).
Can be used to make spruce beer. Anti-scorbutic (Shortland 1851).
Berries collected in considerable quantities. '...like those of the yew, but not slimy' (Bidwill, in Best 1942).
Pigeons very fond of berries (Best 1908).
DYES: Blue dye, kapara, prepared from soot obtained by burning heart of kahikatea and rimu trees. Used for tattooing (Kerry-Nicholls 1886).
Resinous veins, kapara, burnt for soot for tattooing. Process described (Colenso 1892b).
Soot from heartwood (mapara) mixed with oil, used as black paint (Tuta Nihoniho, Ngati-Porou, in Best 1925).
Process for obtaining soot described by White, ibid.
DOMESTIC: Bark used as self-burning stove in Whare Kōhanga (Best 1929).
Young trees used for lashing (Best 1916 p.5).
Sticks of resinous heartwood tied in bundles, used as torches outdoors on the marae (Best 1925).
Māpara, heartwood, used for implements, weapons. Smaller pieces for torches for night fishing, travelling (Best 1908).
Māpara (heartwood) used for fine-toothed combs (Best 1899).
Implement for digging fernroot, the kaheru, often made from the heartwood (māpara) (Best 1903).
Bowl of kahikatea found among museum artefacts tested by Wallace 1989.
''The kahikatea has resin in its heart, which, when burnt, produces a disagreeable smell''(Taylor 1855)
CONSTRUCTION: 'the wood white, light, and perishable if exposed to weather' (Taylor 1870)

Timber tree, mainly indoor work.(Colenso 1869a). (N.B. Details on colonial timber uses generally not recorded in database).
FISHING AND HUNTING: Used for canoe-building (Colenso 1869a; Best 1925).
On Rakiura (Stewart Island) informants told Shortland that kahikatea was used for boatbuilding, by whalers, being of excellent quality. Shortland considers they may have meant rimu (Shortland 1851).
White sapwood not durable. Canoes occasionally made of kahikatea - much inferior to tōtara (Best 1908).
Heartwood of kahikatea used for eel-spears (Best 1903).
Heartwood used for spears (Matthews 1911).
CHEMISTRY: Extensive list of chemical constituents in Cambie 1976, 1988, with references.
Note especially the presence of ecdysones (insect moulting hormone) in leaves, wood and bark (Russell & Fenemore 1970)
Essential oils. Podocarpic acid, source of oestrogen (Brandt & Ross 1949)
PASTIME: See section on musical instruments in Best 1925.

Heartwood a preferred wood for making tops (also in Te Rangi Hiroa 1949; Matthews 1911).
Branchless saplings used for climbing practice. Trunk used to attach ropes, used as a swing.
Heartwood used to make kororohu or whizzer. Also pakuru, pakakau, kikiporo - straight pieces of wood tapped with a smaller piece.
PROVERBS: 'He iti hoki te mokoroa, nana i kakati te kahikatea. Although the grub is but little, yet it gnaws through the big white pine tree...' (Colenso 1880: 118)