Contact Info
Lesley Armstrong-Jennings
10 Shoebridge Cres
R D 3 Whangarei 0173
New Zealand

Phone: 64-9-4344659
Fax: 64-9-4344544

"Tane Mahuta"
New Zealand's Tallest Kauri Tree

Agathis australis
Waipoua Forest, Northland




Tane Mahuta is New Zealand's tallest Kauri tree, situated in the Waipoua Forest, in subtropical Northland. It is approximately 45 feet ( 14 metres) in circumference, and 169 feet ( 52 metres) tall.

Kauri ( pronounced "kah-oo-ree") is a type of pine tree belonging to one of the most ancient families of trees. Kauri's ancestors were to be found between 100 to 200 MILLION years ago. Tane Mahuta ( which means God of the Forest) is believed to be 2000 years old. It is part of a protected Kauri forest.
The second tallest Kauri tree can be found at Matapouri, just a few kilometres from in Ngunguru.




pictures of kauri trees

When the Europeans arrived in New Zealand in the early 1800s, they quickly recognised the value in the Kauri hardwood, and there was mass felling of kauri logs.   The timber was used for ship building, houses, furniture, woodturning, and many other uses. As a result of the mass destruction of the Kauri forests, Kauri is now a protected species and cannot be felled.
Due to natural forces over thousands of years, many Kauri trees lie perfectly preserved in swamps throughout the North of New Zealand.  Some have been carbon dated at 50,000 years old!  It's a mystery what made these giant trees fall - was it  tsunami, earthquake, a volcanic eruption, mass flooding?  Luckily for us, as the swamps were drained over the centuries, some of these Kauri trees appeared under the surface of the ground. 
A Kauri tree lies under my neighbour's house, found when piles were laid down for construction of the house.  It was too big and costly to remove, so the piles were simply driven into the log.
Swamp kauri is prized for turning into kauri wood furniture and tableware, including beautiful Kauri bowls.  It may be the natural dark honey color, or natural stains may turn it a rich dark brown or even a greenish hue.  Regardless of the color, the grain is what makes it so beautiful.  To see how it looks turned into a bowl or mat, click here .

kauri gum

Kauri gum is a resin which bleeds from the Kauri tree when a branch is broken off or a cut is made in the bark.
 It is a natural seal for the tree's wound, preventing water or rot getting into the tree. The resin can bleed out into a sizeable lump, which is then discarded with the bark as the tree grows.

Pictured (left) above is a piece of kauri gum found by one of my ancestors.  It measures approximately 8" x 5" x 5".


The Maori used Kauri gum as a chewing gum and for lighting fires, and it was also used as a tattoo pigment.  The Europeans collected Kauri gum from above ground and then later dug it up from below ground as well. 

Men could make a living just from gum digging.  The gum was shipped overseas to be incorporated into lacquers, varnishes and linoleum.  Eventually the trade died off as synthetic substitutes were created in the 1930s.  


Paryphanta spp

Kauri Snails are a giant carniverous land snail. Called pupurangi by the Maori, the kauri snail pictured is found in Northland but with close relatives in parts of Australia.

There is actually no relationship between the snail and the Kauri tree, as the ground around the base of a Kauri tree is usually too dry to be home for the worms the kauri snail feeds on.

Kauri snail eggs are white, oval, and about 1/2" long. They are deposited in nests in the leaf mould that makes up the forest floor.

Only 10% of snails are carniverous, making this snail unusual, and introduced predators have made the Kauri Snail a rarity and protected species in New Zealand.

kauri snail and eggs


We have a free foldout double-sided sheet of facts about the Kauri tree, complete with photos, the history of the Kauri tree, and where it can be found in Northland.  Email me here for a copy of the free info on the Kauri tree .  To view the information online, click here.

Kauri tree brochure


You can view how Kauri tableware items by clicking here.

NBN03 - NZ Kauri Leaf Board

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