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Prumnopitys taxifolia. Mataī.

Name document
Fishing and Hunting

Click to collapse Māori names Info

MATAĪ; matahi (Allom); Te Mai (Taylor 1847).

Young trees: kāī, māī, kākāī (Best 1907)
Decayed heartwood (natural, not affected by grubs): popo-a-whaitiri (Best 1907)

Click to collapse Common names Info

Click to collapse Food Info

Berries used for food (Kirk, in Taylor 1870Colenso 1868a1868b1880Best 1942Nicholas 1817).

 ''... the fruit is a black berry, about the size of a wild cherry, this is sweet and rather slimy in its taste.'' (Taylor 1847). ''It produces a purple berry like a small plum, of a sweet, fragrant, though slimy taste.'' (Taylor 1855).

Matahi? Maiberry? Fruit gathered when dry. After few hours, juice bursts through. Is very glutinous. Flavour delicious in warm weather. Slightly acid. Stonefruit, 3/4 stone. (Allom, in Earp 1853).

Refreshing beverage 'newly tapped on a hot day.' When heartshakes occur, the watery portion of the sap accumulates in cavities in large quantities (Kirk 1889).
''Mataī beer'' tapped by bushmen from the heartwood cracks of old mataī trees (Easterfield and McDowell, 1915).

Click to collapse Dyes Info

Bark occasionally used by tanners (Kirk 1889).

Brown dye (Wall, Cranwell 1943).

Click to collapse Fishing and hunting Info

Probably tree described by Nicholas 1817 for making long spears (p.341).

Carved work on canoe stems (Colenso 1868a).
Timber used in canoe making - often used for thwarts. Canoe bailers (Best 1925).
Often used for canoe paddles (Tuta Nihoniho, Ngāti-Porou, ibid)

Thin, pliable and tough branches of kāī (young tree) used for making eel pots (Best 19021907).
Posts of mataī or rātā used in making of eel weirs. (Makereti 1938)

Click to collapse Domestic Info

Used for troughs, trays and other large vessels; carving; combs; ornamental boxes (Colenso 1868a).
Prized as fuel, much used for furniture (Taylor 1855).
Used to make wooden spades (Best 1925).
Preferred among Tūhoe for carved, ornate handles of (largely) ceremonial adzes. Also used for handles of hewing-adzes. (Best 1912)
Wallace 1989 found 29 bowls, 9 fernroot beaters, 5 mauls, 5 adze helves, 7 composite spade shafts, 1 kō, 6 wakahuia made of mataī among museum artefacts he tested.

Click to collapse Construction Info

Timber tree. Cabinetmaking, panelling, wheelwrights and millwrights work (Colenso 1868a).
Durable timber (Kirk 1889). (N.B. Details on colonial timber uses generally not recorded in this database).

Click to collapse Scent Info

Resin is very aromatic. (Taylor 1855).

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Juice obtained from tapping trunk is drunk to check the advance of consumption (Adams 1945).
Used as antiseptic by bushmen (K. Pickmere 1940).

Click to collapse Chemistry Info

Chemical constituents listed in Cambie 19761988 with references.

Further details in Brooker, Cambie and Cooper 1981

Click to collapse Pastime Info

See section on musical instruments in Best 1925.

Large war gongs (Colenso 1868b).

A preferred wood for making tops (also Te Rangi Hiroa 1949).

Preferred wood for making toboggans on East Coast (see also Cordyline, Phormium, maire). Used to make flutes of various types. Also the pūkāea, a wooden trumpet. Bullroarers. Kororohu (whizzers). Pahu (gong). Pakuru, pakuku, kikiporo - straight wood tapped with a smaller piece. Roria, or Jew's harp. Ku - a one stringed instrument.

Wallace 1989 found 2 spinning tops made of mataī among museum artefacts he tested.

Click to collapse Notes Info

Māori claim to recognize two species (Best 1942).
Matai included in group of most important trees - rakau rangatira. Māori recognize differences in timber appearance and wood. Variety with dry, light inner wood which splits easily is the female tree (Best 1907).

Click to collapse Metadata Info

11 June 2020
29 September 2021
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