Piwakawaka Mini Te Mära Reo ~ The Language Garden
*Toa [Proto-Polynesian, from Proto-Austronesian *teRzas "(tree with strong) heartwood"]



Phyllocladus trichomanoides [also known as Tänekaha] and P. glaucus (Podocarpaceae), and Haloragis erecta (Haloragaceae

Other inherited name possibly incorporating PPN *toa: Kahikaatoa (see separate page)


The trees known as toatoa are podocarps -- one (Phyllocladus trichomanoides), also known as tanekaha, grows up to about twenty metres high and is characteristic of dry areas at the edges of the forest where there is plenty of light -- something it shares with its Hawaiian namesake koa. The other, P. glaucus, is slightly smaller and is not as widely distributed as P. trichomanoides. Both are confined to the North Island. Another Phyllocladus, P. asplenifolius, is called "Mountain Toatoa" in English but was not called toatoa in Maori.

There is also a medicinal herb, Haloragis erecta, known as toatoa. This herb was used for treating scrofulous diseases.

At present we have one surviving toatoa (tanekaha) tree from several grown from seed sourced from the Hakarimata mountains, a few kilometres away on the other side of the river. This is currently a slim sapling about 4 metres high. The others succumbed to sustained attacks from rabbits and invading cows a few years ago.

Follow the link at the top of this page for more discussion of the etymology of these names, and photographs of the various plants whose names reflect the Proto-Polynesian root *toa. Eventually more information about the plants themselves will appear here!!

The "leaves" of the Phyllocladus trees are actually flattened leaf stems which have taken over the functions of true leaves.



Phyllocladus trichomamoides at forest margin

PPN: *toa Casuarina equisetifolia (Casuarinaceae)

Tongan: Toa (Casuarina equisetifolia)
Niuean: Toa (C. equisetifolia)
Samoan: Toa (C. equisetifolia)
Tahitian: Toa (C. equisetifolia)
Marquesan: Toa (C. equisetifolia)
Hawaiian: Koa (Acacia koa [Fabaceae] )
Tuamotuan: Toa (C. equisetifolia)
Rarotongan: Toa (C. equisetifolia)

Detail of toatoa "leaves", Te Mära Reo




Source of photographs: Toatoa at forest edge: http://www.forestflora.co.nz/Plant%20profiles/Phyllocladus%20trichomanoides.htm; the other photograph was taken in Te Mära reo.



Hue flower

Te Mära Reo, c/o Benton Family Trust, "Tumanako", RD 1, Taupiri, Waikato 3791, Aotearoa / New Zealand
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