Story: Māori foods – kai Māori

Roasting karaka berries, 1908 (2nd of 2)

Roasting karaka berries, 1908

These women are roasting karaka berry kernels at Whakarongotai marae in Waikanae. The kernels contain a powerful poison called karakin, and need careful preparation before they are safe to eat. After roasting, the berries were soaked in fresh water for days or weeks to remove the toxins. Most victims of karaka poisoning were small children attracted by the berries' bright orange colour. They fell into violent convulsions and were sometimes buried in sand to their chins to prevent them dislocating joints.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library, Hislop Album
Reference: PA1-o-229-48-4
Photograph by Harold Stevens Hislop

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Charles Royal and Jenny Kaka-Scott, 'Māori foods – kai Māori - Traditional foods', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 19 May 2024)

Story by Charles Royal and Jenny Kaka-Scott, published 5 Sep 2013