You are looking into the pages of my retrospective Journal documenting our trip to New Zealand (December 2011-January 2012)
This is Northland’s Kauri Museum… with stunning exhibits in halls that lead off halls. I’m still on crutches so taking it nice and slow, letting the others in our group race ahead. Around every corner are new finds…
An information plaque tells me that: “this boardroom table is a single slab of Kauri 15 feet long (4.57m) and is 4 feet 6 inches (1.37m) at one end, widening to 5 feet 6 inches (1.68m) at the other.
Both the boardroom table and lectern were commissioned in 1977 by the Chairman of Dominion Breweries and were made and carved by Brian McCurrach of Auckland.
The kauri timber came from a 1800 year old tree in Warawara Forest (Northland) and huge single slabs were taken out by helicopter.The carvings incorporate a broad spectrum of Maori art with particular influence from the carving style of the Whakatohea people of the east coast of the North Island. When Dominion Breweries moved to new premises in 1986 the set was presented by the Chief executive to the Governor General, Sir Paul Reeves for use in Government House.
In 1994 the Governor General, Dame Catherine Tizard passed the pieces onto this museum where they could be appreciated by thousands of visitors each year. The tabletop weighs more than 1 ton (1,016 kg)“
I’ve got mixed feelings about this table and lectern… they are stunning pieces to be sure, no doubt about it …but I really had hoped that by 1977 people would have been wise enough by this time in history to have refrained from taking this 1800 year old tree out of the forest in the first place. I can only hope that maybe the tree was used because it was already dying, maybe partly hollow and clearly not going to be able to sustain it’s top weight for much longer or some such reason.
At least then it would have been clearer that making it into a beautiful and useful item was better than let it rot on the forest floor, but since they don’t specify if the tree was healthy at the time of removal or not, I suppose we will never know.
The timber for this table might have been hauled out with a helicopter, but in times gone by loggers used more labour intensive machinery… there are rooms and rooms of it from hand cutting to the saw mill processes so if you are into working history, this is a place with bucket-loads of it. These photos are just a minuscule sample… let’s have a look.
Even wood-turning on a solid kauri workbench…