T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Beilschmiedia tarairi (NZ taraire)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(Unranked): Magnoliids
Order: Laurales
Family: Lauraceae
Genus: Beilschmiedia
Species: B. tarairi
Binomial name: Beilschmiedia tarairi
Synonyms: Laurus tarairi ,  Nesodaphne tarairi, Laurus macrophylla 
Common name: tarairi, Taraire, NZ taraire

Beilschmiedia tarairi is a common canopy forming native tree that grows in lowland and lower montane forests in the NorthIsland north of 38°S latitude. There are scattered populations on the west coast between Port Waikato and the KawhiaHarbour, and inland in the Waikato basin. On the east, it occurs in scattered locations on the East Cape. It often grows with kauri (Agathis australis), and pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa), and puriri (Vitex lucens).

Beilschmiedia tarairi grows up to 22 m in height and has a very wide crown.  Its trunk may be up to 1 m in diameter with smooth bark that is dark brown colour. The branches are stout and tend to spread widely. 
It has broad, glossy, dark-green, bullate leaves (50 and 72 mm long, and 34 to 48 mm wide) with a distinctive glaucous underside. Older leaves are shiny dark green above and dull blue-green below, with red-brown hairs along the underside veins. They are alternate, leathery, and simple, with distinctive, depressed veins. They are covered in bronze tomentum when young but lose most of this as they mature. 
The greenish-brown flowers appear September and December and are 3–5 mm in diameter and often clothed in dense reddish-brown hairs.
The ripe, fleshy, olive-shaped, dark purple fruits are covered in a waxy glaucous bloom. They held upright near the tips of its branches. They ripen between March and November. The fruit's seeds are spread by frugivore dispersal. They are a favourite food of the native New Zealand kererū (New Zealand pigeon).

There are no records of the Maori having used Beilschmiedia tarairi for medicinal purposes but the berries were eaten after the kernel was roasting or boiled.
The Maori and the early Europeans had little use of taraire wood because it was light and because it split easily and it was quick to rot.  Use of Beilschmiedia tarairi for timber only started with the advent of boron diffusion treatment. It was used for flooring, furniture, mouldings and turning on a lathe.
It was reported by Best 1925 that among Ngāpuhi, taraire or tawa was used to make fires for hollowing out logs for canoes.

The thick branches of an adult tree

A young N.Z. Taraire

The underside of a leaf

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/