A single species endemic to New Zealand, segregated from its close relative Lagarostrobos in 1995 (Molloy 1995). Manoao is distinguised from Lagarostrobos by its non-resinous bark, upcurved cones with 2–6 bracts separated by short internodes, and ovoid seeds with a fleshy epimatia (cf. resinous bark, cones with 5–10 bracts separated by long internodes, and flattened seeds with a papery epimatia) (Molloy 1995; Debreczy & Rácz 2011). See M. colensoi for a full description.
When Molloy established the new genus Manoao in 1995 the sole species had been known since 1843; the synonyms listed under M. colensoi attest to its complicated taxonomic journey. Originally described as a species of Dacrydium, for years this genus was treated as an improbably broad concept and there were repeated calls for its division from at least 1931 (Molloy 1995). This disintegration finally commenced in 1969 when de Laubenfels segregated the genus Falcatifolium de Laub., distributed in the tropical Malesian floristic region (not discussed in this work), and culminated in 1982 when Quinn segregated the genera Halocarpus Quinn and Lagarostrobos Quinn, distributed in Tasmania and New Zealand, and resurrected Lepidothamnus Philippi with representatives in New Zealand and Chile (Quinn 1982). Sensu Quinn, Lagarostrobos included the famous Huon Pine of Tasmania (L. franklinii) and the Silver Pine or Manoao of New Zealand (L. colensoi). Finally, Molloy demonstrated that these two species differed in several important morphological characters, characters which by the 1990s were widely considered to merit generic segregation within the Podocarpaceae, and he established the new genus Manoao to accommodate the Silver Pine (Molloy 1995).
Molloy’s splitting of Lagarostrobos has not been universally accepted, but the Silver Pine appears as Manoao colensoi more often than not. DNA-based research can be interpreted to refute the splitting of Manoao from Lagarostrobos, but the two species will always come out as sister taxa in any cladistic analysis; as Farjon observes ‘at what rank you then recognise them remains a matter of judgement […] Molloy has given quite a number of differences between the two, including numbers of chromosomes, and together with their likely long (>85 million years) separation across a widening ocean, we may as well recognise them as two separate genera’ (Farjon 2017).