The Nikau Palm, is endemic to New Zealand and is the only native palm in the main islands of New Zealand. Its natural growing range is in lowland areas of both islands, especially the coast. It is a slow growing tree that takes 40 to 50 years to eventually reach 10-15 metres (32 to 50 feet) tall.
While two-thirds of the world's palm species lie in the tropics, the remainder live in sub-tropical and deserts climatic zones. All except for the Nikau Palm which grows as far south as 44 degrees making it the furthest from the tropics of any species making it the southern-most palm species in the world.
The Maori used the nikau for food by eating the flower clusters. The leaves were used for wrapping food before cooking and for use in baskets, mats, and roof thatching.