Yesterday we participated in the annual fund raising hike through part of the Puketi Kauri Forest. About a 40min drive from Waimanu Lodge. There were two options to choose from. Either 12km or 21km. A section of the track was closed which resulted in all of us having to walk 2km along the Waipapa River bed……almost up to my neck at one part…. had to hold my pack above my head. Pleased I didnt slip!
Kauri are among the world’s mightiest trees, growing to over 50 m tall, with trunk girths up to 16 m, and living for over 2,000 years. Kauri forests once covered 1.2 million ha from the Far North of Northland to Te Kauri, near Kawhia and were common when the first people arrived around 1,000 years ago.
Maori used kauri timber for boat building, carving and building houses. The gum was used as a fire starter and for chewing (after it had been soaked in water and mixed with the milk of the puha plant).
The arrival of European settlers in the 1700s to 1800s saw the decimation of these magnificent forests. Sailors quickly realised the trunks of young kauri were ideal for ships’ masts and spars, and the settlers who followed felled the mature trees to yielded huge quantities of sawn timber of unsurpassed quality for building.
The gum too, became essential in the manufacture of varnishes and other resin-based products. The gum was obtained through digging, fossicking in treetops, or more drastically, by bleeding live trees.
More forest was cleared as demand for farmland and timber increased in the early and mid 20th century.
Now kauri are facing a new threat. Kauri dieback is a fungus-type disease, Phytophthora agathidicida (PA), which is having a devastating effect on New Zealand’s kauri forests in Northland, Great Barrier Island and, potentially, the Coromandel Peninsula.
There is no known cure for kauri dieback, but we can help reduce its spread by cleaning boots and equipment and avoiding kauri tree roots. Any movement of soil around the roots of trees could spread the disease.