Usually Kowhai seeds are cased in a brown withered casing, and the seeds themselves are cased in a tough shell. I think this was so they could handle being carried downstream for some time before sprouting. Anyways, it takes months for these seeds to start growing -- I tried it myself, even after soaking them in hot water, one finally sprung up months later.
The Kaipatiki Project told me to gather the seeds between New Year's and Christmas, and they will grow right away. I gathered the seeds at this time - a year later, no sprouts, so FAIL.
Just now I got a comment -below - about how to do it! (March 2012). Copying it here:
All you need to do it knick the outercasing with a knife and soak the seed in a damp papertowel overnight ( the paper towel should then be dyed yellow in the morning and the seed doubled in size)and then plant ( I remove the rest of the casing, not sure if thats necessary though). The seed will then sprout almost straight away. Has worked a treat for me many a time :)Hope that helps.
I am definitely going to try it.