Podocarpus totara



Tōtara trees can grow up to 25-30 metres in height and have a straight trunk with evergreen foliage. It has needle-like leaves that spiral along the branches. Tōtara produces small flowers with fruit.


Tōtara is found throughout New Zealand in forests, wetlands and coastal areas. It is adapted to various habitats, from lowland to montane regions. 

Cultural Importance

Tōtara has significant value to Māori culture. The wood has been used to build canoes, whare and carvings. Its wood is highly durable and considered a treasure in the culture. 

Ecological Role

Tōtara's large size and dense foliage provides shelter and habitat to many native bird species. The fleshy fruit is also a food source for these birds, which helps disperse its seeds. 

Associated Birds

Kereru: Kereru, or New Zealand pigeons, are large, green birds with white and iridescent feathers. They feed on the Tōtara tree's foliage, particularly its leaves and berries, and play a vital role in seed dispersal.

Tui: Tui birds are known for their beautiful melodies and remarkable vocalisations. They visit the Tōtara tree to feed on its nectar-rich flowers, contributing to pollination.

Rifleman: Rifleman is one of the smallest bird species in New Zealand. These energetic birds forage in the Tōtara tree's branches, feeding on insects and spiders.

Grey warbler: Grey warblers are small insectivorous birds that often build intricate nests among the branches of Tōtara trees. They forage for insects and spiders in and around the tree's foliage.

Tomtit: Tomtits are small, charismatic birds known for their colourful plumage. They can be found in Tōtara forests, where they search for insects and feed on nectar.

Morepork: Moreporks, also known as ruru or New Zealand owls, are nocturnal birds of prey. They nest in tree hollows, including those found in old Tōtara trees, and hunt for small mammals and birds.

Silvereye: Silvereyes are small, active birds that frequently visit the Tōtara tree to feed on its nectar, berries, and insects.

Conservation Status

Tōtara is not a threatened tree species, but it faces the threat of habitat loss from logging and the impacts of climate change. 

Interesting Facts

  • Tōtara trees can live past 1,000 years old.

Conservation Tips

To conserve Tōtara, we must support sustainable forestry and rise against illegal logging. We should educate ourselves on the cultural significance of Tōtara and support conservation initiatives.