The tree has both medical and industrial uses. The inside parts of the bark can be applied on lesions like cuts and burns. The gum can stop bleeding from wounds but is also edible, despite the very bitter taste. The bark is also effective when applied on burns, as a decoction or a crushed pulp. It also serves as an ingredient in the production of dark color dyes. The local tribe Ng?puhi used it as a component in the black paint for their canoes. The European colonists were aware of the excellent qualities of the rimu wood and used it extensively in the construction of both furniture and houses. The M?ori used the wood to craft a variety of tools: canoes, torches, spears and various other tools and objects. An unusual usage for rimu was found by Captain Cook, in his second visit to New Zealand. He brewed a beer from the rimu cones and gave it to his crew as a morale boost and to prevent scurvy. It was so successful that the captain kept the recipe for many years and used it again in his next visit to the shores of New Zealand.
The rimu can be found all over New Zealand, including the North Island, South Island and also Rakiura (or the Stewart Island). The western shores of the South Island have the largest remaining forests. However, the biggest specimens grow in the Waihaha, Whirinaki and Pureora Forests near Taupo, where they can be found mixed with other podocarp species. The tree enjoys light soils with good drainage in places out of the reach of strong cold winds. For best results, the rimu requires a large amount of rain and water. It can grow in the shade and can't actually grow in full sun in locations with low moisture. It grows very slowly regardless of the conditions but the fastest rate is in humid areas, with warm summers and moderate winters. When cultivated, it does well alongside other trees. Since it is a dioecious species, trees of both sexes are needed for the production of seeds. It can barely survive in the hottest areas of New Zealand, where it doesn't grow well. Seeds are a viable way of propagation and must be planted in the spring in compost with free drainage. It takes a period of one to three months at 20 degrees C in order for the seed to germinate. However, some people advise sowing the seed as soon as it matures in a cold frame, to speed up the slow germination. The young plants should be immediately moved into pots and sheltered in a greenhouse in the initial winter. After the last period of frost, they can be relocated to their future locations. Cuttings are an alternative method of propagation and have to be planted in the autumn from leading shoots.