Ancient Kauri Trees
Kauri trees come from the Agathis Australis family and have cousins in the Australian Karri and the Fijian Kauri. The New Zealand trees are the giants of the family and are second only in size (in the world) to the Redwoods. They were once found in areas over ¾ of New Zealand but are now confined to forests in the upper regions of the North Island. The trees were milled extensively, as they are famous for their long straight lengths of timber. It has the highest volume of timber of any known tree in the world. Over a period of years, firstly for shipping, and then for housing, the tree was nearing extinction. It is now protected and cannot be milled for any reason. However, because of its beautiful sheen, which some say changes color in various lights, and the beautiful grain from the head and the stump of the tree, it is prized for the making of furniture and crafts.
The Northland Forest Park comprises 17 forests containing 85% of all the Kauri trees remaining in this country. The magnificent, tall, straight, knot-free kauri was one of the great inducements for settlement of these far-flung islands in the Pacific.
Kauri was used by Maori to fashion war canoes, and by the British Navy for masts and spars. It was pit-sawn for settler’s homes and provided valuable kauri gum. The trees are comparable in age and volume to the tallest trees in the world, the giant sequoias of California.
The volume of milled kauri has become harder to find, so craftsmen are turning to the supply of swamp kauri for their treasures. Swamp Kauri is found where the mighty forests once stood - felled by natural cataclysmic events from long ago. The leaves of the Kauri take a long time to decompose and form a barrier around the timber after a tree has fallen. The weight of the tree causes it to sink over a period of time, buried for thousands of years, until it emerges as a considerably hardened wood. While only some of it is comparable to the new timber, swamp kauri is highly valued for its richness of color, enhanced by natural chemicals during its stint underground, bringing an added dimension to the already beautiful grain.
Kauri, the native timber used to create furniture, has been prized for 200 years by carpenters, cabinetmakers and boat-builders for its consistent high-quality density and grain. However, the kauri far exceeds the age of any kauri found elsewhere. Extracted from beneath the ground in peat swamps in northern New Zealand, ancient kauri can be more than 40,000 years old, pre-dating the Egyptian pyramids.
In three pre-historic forests sitting on top of one another in Northland. The deepest layer is a now extinct species said to be buried by some catastrophic event more than 43,000 years ago. The second forest fell over about 36,000 years ago and the most recent is about 6000 years old.
Despite its long burial, with careful selection, cutting and drying, the wood maintains qualities consistent with current varieties. However, its beauty far exceeds that of traditional kauri. The subtle timber grain often features the silken effect of polished fossilised gum that has seeped into the wood. Bathed in light, the wood finish literally glistens as if lit from beneath the surface.
Thousands of years ago, before the last ice age, there were great forests of this truly massive tree growing in the north of New Zealand.
For reasons that will probably always remain a mystery some of these forests were suddenly destroyed and have been buried under peat swamps ever since. There are differing theories regarding what caused these events but the likeliest was some sudden natural disaster, possibly even the global flood of Noah's time.
Whatever the cause, these trees have been sealed from the air for thousands of years and have been perfectly preserved. In fact, so well have they been preserved that when logs are extracted from the swamps today it is still possible to find the leaves of these mighty trees in good condition, albeit discoloured somewhat.
This is the oldest workable timber in the world!
The volume of timber still under the ground in the north of New Zealand is not known for certain but indications are that the logs will continue to be extracted for some years to come. However, because this timber is non-renewable, when it is gone it will be gone for ever.
The finished product is a rich cognac shade, darker than traditional kauri, which has a more golden tone.
The Twin Kauri Trees:
|Kauri Resin Gum
- These two magnificent trees are found 90m along a bituminised path originating from the car park of the Lake Barrine, Kiosk / Souvenir shop.
- The information about these trees is amazing.
- Their exact age has not been calculated but has been estimated at being in excess of 1100 years.
- The lake’s history has been studied by scientists and these studies have shown that these two trees are the ancestors of Conifer Forest which dominated this area of Queensland prior to the current rainforest. This ancient forest covered these parts over 100 million years ago.