Karaka or New Zealand Laurel is an evergreen tree that grows through northern New Zealand. The trees are a popular place for smaller birds to sleep during the winter.
The name karaka is also the Māori term for the colour orange, from the colour of the fruit. 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. The Karaka Grove was a purposeful cultivation by the land’s Maori settlers, either as a food source or a sacred place for the tohunga to consult his atua.
The grove of karaka in Te Mata Park is believed to be at least 200 years old. Please do take note of it when you next wander on by…
Read more about the HIGHLIGHTS of the Karaka Wander on this link.
For a map of the Karaka Wander, please go to this link.