Orokonui Ecosanctuary/Plants

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Kā Rākau - Forest


  • Orokonui's annual rainfall of some 800-1200 is barely wet enough to support indigenous forest but is supplemented by sea fogs that help maintain sufficient humidity and soil moisture
    • No distinct tiers of vegetation (canopy, understorey and ground layer) instead comprising of a vertical continuum of ferns, seedlings, saplings, shrubs, vines and trees
      • Uppermost more or less continuous surface formed by the canopies of broadleaved tree species
        • The most characteristic species of cloud forest tree is Pāhautea

Pāhautea/Kaikawaka - New Zealand cedar

  • New Zealand has only three true coniferous tree species, kauri and two members of the cedar family
  • Pāhautea, also known as kaikawaka, is found in montane and subalpine forests in both main islands, and descends towards the lowlands in the far south
  • Common on Dunedin's hills, distinctive conical crown rises above the broadleaved tree canopy
  • Orokonui has at least two mature pāhautea - near the Rimu Track
    • Mihiwaka carries quite large populations of the species
      • Pāhautea is high on planting list to ensure that this defining tree of cloud forest continues to thrive in a protected habitat

Makomako - Wineberry

  • Dioecious – need female plants
  • Warmed leaves used as poultice for rheumatism and burns, boils
  • Eaten raw by Maori and made into jam and wine by Europeans.
  • Usually die out after 10-15 years
  • Tui and Tauhau eat fruit, kereru eat fruit and leaves
  • Pūkaikai bird spears - made in sections
  • Ipu basins
  • Burnt and soot collected for use as tattooing ink

Putaputawētā - Marbleleaf

  • Full of weta holes - wētā grubs tunnel it extensively
  • Mottled leaves on zigzagging branches
  • Distinct juvenile phase with small leaves

Hūpiro - Stinkwood

  • Dioecious. - pollinated by wind
  • Leaves crushed smell bad!
  • Roasted seed is coffee substitute

Mikimiki - Yellow Wood

  • Grey interlacing branches, dark green leaves on top, pale underneath, quite thick
  • Translucent berries initially pale but turn translucent blue.
  • Good food for lizards, insects
    • Some coprosmas have red berries that attract birds but the blue are strictly for lizards and hang underneath the branch

Kōtukutuku - Tree fuchsia

  • Deciduous
  • Largest fuchsia in world
  • Flowers start green then turn burgundy red when nectar finished
  • Pollen is bright blue only on hermaphrodite trees
  • Female trees can only be pollinated by birds
  • Example of mutualism, birds need nectar, trees need pollination
  • Used as lipstick by Maori
  • Berry named kōnini; it was also eaten by European settlers in jams and puddings
    • Dye used as ink

Kapuka - Broadleaf

  • Kapuka (as in Kapuka-tau-mahaka/ Mt Cargill)
  • Timber dense used for fenceposts (can be seen on the track by the big pokaka), house piles and boat building
  • Bitter berries, loved by birds
  • Inner bark used for TB and STDs
  • Life span of at least 100 years

Koromiko - Hebe salicifolia

  • Large bushy evergreen shrub with spear shaped leaves with white or pale lilac flower spikes
  • Vapour and poultice for headaches, diarrhoea, kidney infections and bladder disorders

Kanuka - Kunzea ericoides

  • Up to 15m high
  • Leaves small pointed aromatic
  • Flowers small white.
  • Successional species. Forms dense scrub then will diversify to a mixed forest.
  • Provide habitat for a wide variety of other plants and animals such as orchids.

Mahoe - Whiteywood

  • Grows to 10m.
  • White splotchy bark. Violet blue berry eaten by many birds.
  • Dioecious
  • Insect pollinated.
  • Used to create fire by friction.
  • Kaka love to chisel off the bark to get at the sap

Horopito - Pepper Tree

  • Pseudowintera colorata
  • Chewed for toothache
  • Cafe dries and uses leaves for seasoning
  • One of the earliest flowering trees to evolve and is endemic at the genus level

Harakeke - Flax

  • Phormium tenax
  • Used for burns, cuts, constipation, splints
  • Gum from base of the leaves for cuts and sores.
  • Roots scraped, cleaned, boiled and consumed for constipation
  • Clothing, shelter, hunting
  • Baskets and ropes

Totara - Hall's

  • Podocarpus hallii
  • Can live up to 600 years
  • Maori used for shelters
  • Most common totara here with a couple of Podocarpus totara lower in the valley

Harakeke - Flax


  • Bark - mats/kākahu, baskets/kete, poi balls, belts/tātua and piupiu
  • Wood - fishing rod
  • Kiekie
  • Kowhai
  • Kuta
  • Maire

Mānuka/Kanuka- Teatree

  • Neinei
  • Patiti
  • Pikao
  • Pirita
  • Poroporo
  • Rata
  • Raupo
  • Rimu
  • Taramea
  • Tarata
  • Ti Kouka
  • Tikumu
  • Toatoa
  • Toetoe
  • Toi
  • Totara
  • Tutu
  • Wiwi

Aruhe - Pikopiko

  • Māori used the rhizomes of P. esculentum (aruhe) as a staple food, especially for exploring or hunting groups away from permanent settlements
    • Widespread distribution consequence of prehistoric deforestation and subsequent tending of aruhe stands on rich soils
  • Rhizomes were air-dried so that they could be stored and became lighter; for consumption,
    • Briefly heated and then softened with a patu aruhe (rhizome pounder)
      • The starch could then be sucked from the fibres by each diner, or collected if it were to be prepared for a larger feast.
  • Patu aruhe were significant items and several distinct styles were developed.