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Take a break, re-focus, and revise your take on this moment in time by standing it next to the majestic New Zealand Kauri (Agathis australis) and its moments in time. Some Kauri ‘moments’ have endured for 1000+ years. It’s refreshing in a steaming summer to remember what the trees have long known; that they are the cooling lungs of the planet and that we, like they, are all invisibly connected. Kauri were almost wiped out by greed and ignorance, but not quite, so we have the opportunity today to re-establish this magnificent ancient species. Agathis Australis is one of 22 species of the Agathis genus which belongs to an ancient conifer family, the Araucariaceae.

The iconic New Zealand Kauri is a monoecious coniferous forest specimen which grows to five metres within ten years, to a maximum of 60m height. Past the age of fifty it often achieves enormous girth. The leaves are thick, coriaceous, and lanceolate (shaped like the head of a lance). When young, foliage is pinky-green but as the tree matures its leaves move through a range of bronze to yellow greens and settle at maturity to an overall light-green.

Young trees, known as rickers (30-50 years), are light-hungry and in closed forests grow straight up on narrow boles through the canopy. As they mature the forest-shaded branches drop off. As the rickers penetrate the canopy, the upward growth of the trunk immediately ceases. At this point it divides at the top into several ascending limbs to form a flattish-topped crown which can attain up to 15m depth and a spread of up to 30m. From this point the trunk begins to establish girth.

Kauri do not flower but produce catkins (male) from September to January, and cones (female) from September to December. Once catkins release their pollen in spring, they fall. Female cones are produced from about the age of fifty, and ripen from green to reddish brown over 18 months before releasing 2cm long, single-winged seeds, and disintegrating on the tree, or falling to shatter on the ground.

Kauri are endemic with a natural habitat from Te Paki south to just below Kawhia and across to Te Puke. They favour ridges up to a maximum of 750m and much of the Coromandel, Waitakere Ranges, Little and Great Barrier Islands, and the northwest of Northland was covered in dense kauri forest where today small protected stands still remain. Agathis australis has been successfully grown as far south as Stewart Island. Kauri prefer well-drained soils with good moisture but tolerate infertile free-draining soils. They withstand wind and drought when established. The quintessential park or farm specimen tree, Kauri also grows well in stands in the company of its kin or with Totara.

  $65 each        $130 each        $480 each

The name, Agathis comes from Greek and refers to the female cone which resembles a ball of string. Australis means south. Northern New Zealand was originally covered in an estimated 1,200,000 hectares of kauri forest. Today less than 4,000 hectares remain. The largest recorded Kauri was just a few kilometres north of Dargaville and named Kairuru. With a girth of 20 metres, and diameter over 6 metres it was twice the size of the Waipoua Forest’s Tane Mahuta, the largest kauri standing today.

  • Maori associated Kauri with divine qualities, the tree being significant in their mythology. 
  • Agathis Australis was also used for carving  waka, lintels above doorways, and korere, the chief’s tapu feeding vessels
  • Fresh kauri resin (kapia) was mixed with the milk of puha and used as chewing gum. Maori also lit fires and torches with resin, and soot from burning old gum made a tattoo pigment.
  • The term ricker applied to the masts of the British Royal Navy sailing ships and was transferred to the adolescent trees ideal for ship spars
  • Kauri timber is a prized wood-working timber. It is honey coloured, with a speckled silver lustre, straight grain, and without obvious growth rings.
  • 400-1000 year old kauri timber dries well, is easily worked, stable, relatively strong and imperishable. 
  • The 1861 census listed over 85% of Auckland homes built from Kauri
  • Even a slight wound to the bark causes kauri to exude gum
  • Gum was used in high quality paints and varnishes until 1925 and at its peak in 1899 11,000 tonnes was exported to Britain for linoleum manufacture, and as a copal substitute in varnishes and paints. Most of this was extracted by Dalmatian settlers.
  • Swamp kauri was a major source of gum, much of it extracted from the Omaha Flats where takana native trees is sited today
  • Kauri is easily grown from seed collected from mature cones in Feb-March 
  • Sow immediately into trays in humid environment
  • Germination should occur in 2-3 weeks
  • Prick seedlings out when they reach 5cm
  • Can be planted out after one to two years
  • Seedlings require protection especially on exposed sites, and overhead light
  • Young seedlings are moderately frost-sensitive but hardy when older

Kauri Dieback caused by the soil-borne pathogen, Phytophthora agathidicida was first noted in 1972 on Great Barrier Island particularly amongst old, large girth Kauri. Appropriate treatment for the disease is still under scientific investigation and there is some thought that wild pigs may have a part to play.

takana native trees has never had Kauri Dieback in their nurseries but we remain vigilant. It’s heartening to note that hundreds of thousands of young kauri (50-100yrs) just beginning to break through the canopy in various northern forests, appear to be in robust health with no sign of the disease. The health of populations of this iconic native tree is essential.

For price and availability list
* All prices are exclusive of GST

102 Omaha Flats Road, Matakana

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