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Decimation of the Ancient Kauri

17 February 2011 | Waipoua Forest
Sunny & Warm
Photo of Lori standing at the base of Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest). It is New Zealand's largest known living kauri tree.
Measurements
Trunk Girth 13.77 m
Trunk Height 17.68 m
Total Height 51.2 m
Trunk Volume 244.5 m3


Today we drove through the Ancient Kauri Forest of New Zealand...without a doubt it was one of the most depressing experiences of our travels. Over the period of 2 hours we drove past what must have been the sole surviving dozen or so ancient Kauri trees and then we visited the Kauri Museum where they celebrated the history of the bushman and his ability over 100 years to decimate an entire population of 1000's of ancient Kauri trees. The fact that any survive today is something of a miracle.

The Kauri tree is a majestic hardwood that rivals the color and quality of old growth teak. Some of the ancient trees were measured to be 40 feet in diameter and over 200 feet tall living for more than 2000 years. Kauri forests once covered 1.2 million hectares from the Far North of Northland to Te Kauri, near Kawhia and were common when the first people arrived around 1000 years ago. Now, there remain only a hand full and laws have finally been passed that make it illegal to fell such ancient giants. I could not believe that they were still cutting these incredible trees just a couple decades ago.

The Kauri Museum was incredible, however you couldn't help but feel that they were touting the strength and courage of the bushmen that cut these trees and their ingenuity to bring the monster logs to market rather than displaying the shameful facts of a ancient forest completely devastated by human greed. I'm not a tree hugger, but felling a tree that is 3000 years old is disgusting and thoughtless.

One of the most thought provoking displays at the museum were the Bog Kauris. These are ancient Kauris that were discovered buried in the bogs of North Island. The wood from many of these ancient trees has been carbon dated to more than 40,000 years old. The picture of Lori in the stump of one of these Bog Kauri shows how incredibly beautiful the wood is after thousands of years covered in mud. One of the wood samples was even dated to 30 million years old and it remains viable wood...not fossil.


Lori sitting inside a 35,000 year old tree.


Whangarei falls.

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