Point of Interest – Karaka Grove

Karaka-fruit-ripe_med Karaka or New Zealand Laurel (Corynocarpus laevigatus) is an evergreen tree that grows through northern New Zealand. The name karaka is also the Māori term for the colour orange, from the colour of the fruit. Karaka trees are a popular place for smaller birds to sleep during the winter. The karaka’s ability to bear fruit in winter means it is a vital food source for many species, especially for the native New Zealand wood pigeon or kereru. Karaka were very important to Māori as a source of food. The flesh of the fruits could be eaten raw, but the kernels were bitter and very toxic. Because of this, the kernels were soaked in water before being steam-baked for several hours and then washed in running water to remove the husks and ensure all traces of poison had disappeared. The kernels were then dried and stored to be ground into flour and baked into a bread. This grove of karaka is believed to be at least 200 years old.