Ngaiois found in coastal and lowland forest and, because it is generally avoided by stock, is often one of the fewremaining species where cattle have been grazing.
The leaf spots are caused by pellucid glands which containngaione, a liver toxin that causes sickness or death in cows,horses, sheep and pigs.
Ngaio'sripe berries also containngaione, so should not be eaten.
Māori rubbed the leaves of the tree on their skin to repel mosquitos andsandflies, and early European farmers used theoil as a sheep dip to ward off parasites.
Thengaiotree features in Māori moon mythology. It is said that the craters of the moon resemble a woman, Rona, and angaiotree. Rona was upset with the moon,Mārama, when he went behind a cloud and caused her to trip and fall, soshe hurled insults at him.Māramabecame so angry that he reached down and grabbed Rona and pulled her to the nightsky. She grabbed on to angaiotree as she was pulled upward, but that tree was wrenched from the ground andremained with her on the moon.
It is a cautionary tale against cursing, and when someone is using foul language, they may be told “Kīamaharatehe oRona”: remember what happened to Rona.