Distribution Karaka is a coastal tree of the North Island but can be found as far South as Westport and Banks Peninsula. It is often found in groves as the Maori planted it for the fruit and leaves. Maori legend is that the karaka was brought to New Zealand from their homeland.
About It was greatly valued as food, second only to kumara. Eating the untreated kernel causes severe muscle cramps that can even rip the muscles off the bone.
The kernels have to be boiled and then steamed or soaked in running water before the poisonous karakin is completely leached out. The Maori ground the kernels up, after treatment, into flour for bread. The leaves were used to help wounds heal and to draw the poisons from a boil. The timber is white, very brittle and makes good firewood when dry. It has no other uses, although once used by Maori for making canoes.