I've been wanting to find one ever since I first saw it in a book on native trees - that was about 40 years ago. I even planted a tree, but it never fruited, maybe because it needed to be a female.
It's the little black seed inside the enticing red flesh that was of value to Maori, for the seed contains the finest oil they knew. It was quite a business extracting it, involving mashing up the fruit and washing away the flesh, then pounding the seeds and placing them inside a long, tough kete - flax basket. With a stick at either end, two people could then wind the basket in opposite directions to squeeze out the oil.
It was used in perfumes, and as a much prized hair oil.
The titoki doesn't fruit every year; in fact there's a proverb that says a tree bears fruit kia puta tana hiahia —when it wants to. So both the titoki and me had to be ready to find each other.
I'm so happy to have found this beautiful, lush little gem!