Nikau palms…what can you do with them? A rich resource indeed!

What indeed? Cots. caves, guitars, masks, funnels, trolleys, roofs, art…. a long list. So here they are! First some images and then some

An interior of the Nikau Palm Grove at Kohaihai – Kahurangi National Park, West Coast, New Zealand








.So there they are … glorious and lush and frequently dropping these magnificent bowls.

And Maori used them for medicine but especially for roofing. I was going to have a  nikau  roof for my first  house and I received lessons from marvellous women in Kennedy Bay. The fronds have a pleated groove down the centre like a little drain, so if you place them the right way up, once woven, they naturally guide any water down off the roof. Check out this website for more details of building strategies.


Some young people doing the Duke  of Edinburgh award  followed a similar principle to make this beautiful roof.


It did not endure the weather because they did not do what the Maori people did, which is to create the delicious patterns that you see from the inside underneath and then stack heaps more fronds on top,,,and replace them annually or so. It makes it look rather scruffy but then it works and it is still beautiful from underneath.  See the other link above.

What else can you make? this woman learned how to weave table decorations and hangi covers and got to learn how to make fire and all sorts on a wonderful day in Pakuranga.

But then there are the true and whacky artists like Julian Rosenberg who creates gorgeous and functional musical instruments using the dried nikau bowl as the sounding chamber. They are all different shapes and they all play beautifully.

And James Harcourt who creates masks out of the nikau frond and does delicious artwork on them. This is his website link.


or you can simply paint on them….or make a bronze art work out of the shape….

And then there are my ideas!!  A cradle, a cave, a home, a bowl, a go kart, a funnel…. and there are no doubt many more! You will see one drying upside down on my stove because it rained and when I finally decided to take photos, it had reverted in shape somewhat. You have to wedge them open while they dry and once dried, they hold their shape with vigorous determination! The cave I cut part of the front away… dead easy while damp, very hard when dry… much more brittle. Good luck.