Tane Mahuta “Lord Of The Forest”
The name Lone Kauri is inspired by Lone Kauri Road, an artery that winds down through native bush in Auckland's Waitakere Ranges. Lone Kauri Road concludes at Karekare Beach, a spectacular black sand surf beach made famous in Jane Campion's mysterious drama ‘The Piano’ in 1993. While Lone Kauri Road holds special significance for the founders of LoneKauri.com, the name is also intended as a symbol of a species under threat from human impact.
Kauri trees are found throughout the upper North Island – in Auckland, Northland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty, and are New Zealand’s largest tree with an average diameter of two meters at maturity. Kauri are one of the longest-living tree species in the world and a cornerstone of the indigenous forests of the upper North Island.
The biggest of all is the giant Tane Mahuta - which resides in Waipoua Forest in Northland. The “lord of the forest” has a girth of 15.44m and height of 45.2m. Its age is estimated between 1,250 and 2,500 years. Ancient subtropical rainforests once claimed the area, and the tree is a remnant of this past.
Māori consider Kauri a taonga (treasure) that links them to their spiritual world. They have been integrated into mythology, war and daily life, some even venerated as chiefs of the forest. The giant trunks were sometimes used to carve out large sea/war canoes or waka taua for battle.
The strength of Kauri timber and its ability to withstand even the roughest ocean conditions meant the trees were particularly appealing to early European settlers who by 1900 had felled most Kauri forests. Throughout New Zealand, there are only 7,500 hectares of mature Kauri remaining.
The Kauri that remain have been classified as nationally vulnerable by the Department of Conservation due to Kauri dieback, an incurable, fatal disease that kills most, if not all, of the kauri it infects. Dieback is solely soil-borne and the consensus among experts is that the predominant vector for the spread of the disease is human activity. In 2018, Tane Mahuta, in particular, was considered threatened by dieback that has already impacted nearby Kauri trees.
The Kauri's plight is real but also mirrors countless other environmental impacts throughout the globe at the hands of human activity.