March 4, 2024


Ngaio is a smaller native evergreen tree that can grow up to 15 meters tall with a trunk diameter of up to 50 cm.


Ngaio is a smaller native evergreen tree that can grow up to 15 meters tall with a trunk diameter of up to 50 cm. Its bark is a light grey, and its leaves are glossy green, oval-shaped, and can grow up to 10 cm long. The tree produces small white flowers and small, fleshy, purple-black fruit.


Ngaio is native to coastal areas of the North Island and the top of the South Island of New Zealand. It grows in sandy and rocky soils and is often found near the sea, on cliffs, and in coastal forests.

Cultural Importance

Ngaio has a long history of use by Māori, who used its bark for medicinal purposes and the wood for making fishing gear, tool handles, and weapons. The tree is also used for erosion control and as a shelterbelt.

Associated Birds

Kākāriki: Kākāriki, or parakeets, are colourful parrots that may visit Ngaio trees. Their bright plumage and energetic behaviour make them a vibrant addition to the tree's surroundings.

North Island Robin: North Island Robins are small passerine birds with dark plumage and a distinctive white patch on the forehead. They forage for insects on and around Ngaio trees.

Pīwakawaka: Fantails are agile birds known for their fan-shaped tail and friendly behaviour. They can often be seen fluttering around Ngaio trees, catching insects on the wing.

Grey Warblers: Grey Warblers, are tiny birds known for their melodious song. They may forage for insects among the foliage of Ngaio trees.

Rifleman: Rifleman are one of New Zealand's smallest bird species. They may visit Ngaio trees in search of insects and small invertebrates.

Kererū: Kererū, or New Zealand Pigeons, are large, distinctive birds known for their role in seed dispersal. They may consume fruits from Ngaio trees.

Silvereye: Silvereyes are small passerine birds with a distinctive white eye ring. They may visit Ngaio trees for insects and small fruits.

Ecological Role

Ngaio provides a habitat for native birds and insects and is an important food source for the native New Zealand pigeon (kererū). The tree is also helpful in stabilising coastal sand dunes and preventing erosion.

Conservation Status

Ngaio is not currently classified as a threatened species, but it is important to manage and conserve its habitats to ensure the health of the ecosystems it supports.

Interesting Facts

  • The leaves of the ngaio tree contain a toxin that can be harmful to some animals, but the kererū can eat them without harm.
  • The ngaio is one of the few native New Zealand trees tolerant of salt spray, making it an important plant for coastal ecosystems.
  • Ngaio is also known as the Mousehole Tree due to the large holes sometimes found in its trunk, which are thought to be created by introduced rats.

Conservation Tips

To help conserve ngaio and its habitats, it is important to avoid removing trees from coastal areas and to avoid using harmful chemicals that can harm the tree and its associated wildlife. It is also important to support local conservation efforts and community projects that aim to restore and protect ngaio habitats.



Myoporum laetum

Ngaio is a smaller native evergreen tree that can grow up to 15 meters tall with a trunk diameter of up to 50 cm.