New Zealand: Kauris, Legendary trees

The Kauri (Agathis australis), also called Kaori, is an endemic tree from the family of the conifer that can be found in the northern part of New-Zealand.
Kauris exist in New-Zealand for ages. Some fossils had been discovered and have been estimated to 220 millions of years old.


 

The Waipoua forest, in New Zealand

 

In the past, very thick forests of Kauris covered the northland. We estimate that before 1800. The Kauris forests used to occupy more than 12,000 square kilometers.
However, after the overexploitation of the forest by the western population after their landing on this archipelago, only 4% of the initial number of these legendary trees has been spared. The survivors are now mostly located in the Waipoua forest.
The size of this tree and its straightness make it the ideal wood to build boats. Especially for the boat masts.
Its sap, called « gum », was also taken and used to make varnish for the wood pieces, glue and also fire starter. Once the sap taken, the tree was dead. Despite its huge size, the Kauri is very fragile because of its very thin roots.
The use of synthetic products instead of the sap helps to save the Kauri.

 

The few remaining Kauris can be more than 50 meters high and the trunk more than 3 meters large. These characteristics make it one of the most majestic trees on Earth.
Even if it’s difficult to estimate the age of these trees, some recent studies conclude that the oldest trees are 2000 years old.
Nowadays, preservation and protection plans are controlled by the DOC (Department of Conservation). The Kauris are referenced; some footpaths are marked to prevent hikers to step on weak tree roots.
The DOC samples the young roots, protects them while they growing, and plants them later in areas where Kauris disappeared.

 

Huge kauri in the Waipoua forest

 

Remains from dead kauris

 

Kauri bark

 

Tane Mahuta, the lord of the forest:

One tree, the Tane Mahuta (“lord of the forest”), has an important place in the Maori cosmology because it is the son (of Papatuanuku, the earth Mother and of Ranginui, the Sky Father.
Papatuanuku and Ranginui, were living entwined, deeply in love. They were physically so close of each other that the universe was smothering.
Tane Mahuta, the fruit of their love, grew up with strength and separates his parents, the earth and the sky and allowed the surroundings to live within the light. The atmosphere has also been created by this event as well as the life as we know it today.
Tane Mahuta, with its 51.2 meters height and with a circumference of 13.77 meters is really the lord of the forest. Its age is estimates to 2000 years old.

 

Tane Mahuta , « Lord of the forest »

 

Other interesting Kauris:

Among the other interesting trees, Te Matua Ngahere, is considered, by some scientists, as the oldest tree on earth within the humid forest category. It will be about 4000 years old. Some other scientists think that it will be more between 1500 and 2500 years old explaining its measuring out of any standard and its fast growing.
Te Matua Ngahere has a colossal trunk. A circumference of 16.41 meters and 5.2 meters large (Smaller than Tane Mahuta with only 29.9 meters high).
Sometimes it happens that the Kauris trunks are splitted in several pieces. That’s the case of the “Four sisters”, a tree composed of 4 trunks and growing in the Waipoua Forest. (It is the biggest splitted tree in the forest).

 

Te Matua Ngahere, the widest trunk Kauris

 

Te Matua Ngahere

 

Four sisters, composed of 4 trunks

 

Four sisters

 

And now?
Read the paper about the New-Zealand Tasman Glacier and the Pukaki lake
or
Read the paper about the Kauris, the New-Zealand Simien legendary trees

 

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