28 May 2019
Kauri trees were considered by Māori to be the kings of New Zealand’s forest. These giants can reach over 50 meters and are also one of the longest-living tree species in the world lasting for more than 1000 years. Māori used their trunks to build canoes and their gum to make torches, insecticides and also ink for the facial tattoos. Kauri timber were prized too by the early European settlers, who use it for ship building and other constructions. With industrial logging, tracts of native forest soon dwindled. Today, the remaining patches are protected and, in some places, the forest is being restored. In Auckland, for example, the Chatswood-Birkenhead area contains a kauri forest with much of its trees of less than 150 years old, but also with some of more than 400 years old. Now a new threat lurks: the dieback disease, caused by the Phytophthora agathidicida pathogen, can be spread by just a pinhead of soil and is incurable. If you visit them, clean all soil off, spray your footwear and gear and stay on the designated open tracks. We almost extinguished these colossi, now we must save them.