Local Heart, Global Soul

June 28, 2012

Leaner and Greener …In Another 2000 Years?…

Filed under: HISTORY,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Places and Sights,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are about to leave the Waipoua Forest in New Zealand’s Northland, but first I wanted to mention that there is more than one giant Kauri to see here if you want.

Most are hidden away,  protected and left in peace (as they should be) slowly growing to their giant size somewhere within the canopy of the Waipoua.

Several of the biggest though serve as both tourist attractions and educational sites so that people can see the trees for themselves and become aware that keeping them safe and healthy is a concerted work in progress rather than just a matter of  slapping a protection order on them and hoping for the best.

I do spot that on some information boards Tane Mahuta is listed as “God of the Forest” and on others it’s translated as “Lord of the Forest” so I’m not quite sure now which one is correct. Maybe it’s one of those words in Maori that has several interpretations?

The Department of Conservation has erected numerous information boards so the visitor from near and far can learn as much about Kauri as possible when they stop off to see them.  The conservation message is a strong one… and I’m glad to see that even in the walkway, trees of all varieties have been accommodated as much as possible rather then just torn down.  One stump is a New Zealand punga, and tiny budding tree ferns are emerging from it just centimetres from the public’s feet.

It’s a nice sign that with care and careful management co-existence is very possible between mankind and nature.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We did pull in at Te Matua Ngahere (Father of the Forest) but found out at the car park that the walk to New Zealand’s second biggest Kauri Tree takes 20 minutes each way.  Definitely out of reach for me on crutches and the two littlest kids were not enthusiastic so we ended up skipping this one, for this trip at least. I’ve seen Te Matua Nghere before too, as a teenager, it’s a shorter tree but fatter than Tane Mahuta… and it feels gigantic when you are close.

Back in the days when I first saw it school children used to link hands and try and surround it… I forget exactly how many kids it would take to make a circle around it but it was a lot… 15 or 20 or more from very vague memory. (depends entirely on the size of the kids naturally!)  Of couse from what we know now about the fragility of the Kauri root system, this practice would have long since been stopped.

Learning to live in balance with nature is something I’m interested in… of course we all want our creature comforts and modern technologies and in cities there obvious restrictions and limits but if there is a sustainable way to find the maximum balance possible then I’m willing to make  sacrifices to achieve it. Imagine if every spare green space in cities were used to grow veggies, trees or wildflowers, every new building and every building renovated were required to incorporate solar energy, rainwater catchment and brown water recycling.

I heard this week that Germany has now so far installed as many solar panels on homes and businesses nationwide that it’s the equivalent of the output of twenty nuclear power stations. It’s just the start, and Bravo Germany for taking such steps.

I hope we can become leaner and greener and can use human technology as wisely as possible so that both we and Kauri can both still be around happily co-existing in another 2000 years time.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 27, 2012

The REAL Lord of the Rings: Tane Mahuta, …Lord of the Forest.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Here is what we have come into the Waipoua Forest for… We come to see the giant of all Kauri:  Tane Matuta, One of New Zealand’s most famous trees.

Of course I’ve learned a lot about Kauri from the Kauri Museum, but here we have some to see the actual living specimens. An information board tells me:

Tane Mahuta,  Lord of the Forest.

You are in the presence of one of the most ancient of trees.

In Maori Cosmology, Tane is the son of Ranginui the sky father and Papatuanuku the earth mother.

Tane tore his parents apart, breaking their primal embrace, to bring light, space and air and allowing life to flourish.

Tane is the life giver. All living creatures are his children. This is the largest living Kauri tree in New Zealand. It is difficult to accurately estimate the age of Tane Mahuta, but it may be that Tane Mahuta sprang from a seed around 2000 years ago during the lifetime of  Christ.

The dimensions of Tane Mahuta are: Trunk height: 17.7 metres (58 feet). Total height: 51.5 metres (168.96 feet).  Trunk girth: 13.8 metres (45.2 feet) , Trunk volume: 244.5  cubic metres . (802.16 cubic feet).

Note: the feeding roots of Kauri are shallow and delicate. Walking off the formed protective paths and platforms can kill these giant trees.

There are many foreign tourists here of course, and one man  (white tee-shirt and grey shorts) asks if he should try and move out of the way for my photos, I tell him that he’s most welcome to be in the photo if he likes but he might therefore be on my blog on the internet. He laughs and tells me that’s not a problem and that if I want to put his name in too, then his name is Brandon Johnson (or Jackson) and that he’s from the USA.

Mea Culpa, he did tell me his surname but by the time I made my journal notes in the evening I’d forgotten if he’d said “Jackson” or “Johnson”. Brandon, if  by some chance ever you get to read this post, I’d be totally happy if you could contact me so I could put your name in here correctly.

I try and get good photos of the tree but it’s harder than it looks because fitting everything in, in the available positions on the walkway is a tall order. Not surprising of course for such a tall tree.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Looking at photographs of a 2000 year old living tree can not in any way convey the feelings you have when you are close to it in person.

Yes, people are taking photos, but many are also quiet, staring in awe and respect at the giant of nature before them. It has that effect on me too, this is the one time in my life when hugging a tree would make sense to me.

I would have given it a hug to say sorry that my human predecessors cut down so many of it’s fellow Kauri, for the way it must stand silently by as mankind depletes the resources of the planet and how we are upsetting the balance of nature round the world.  I would have hugged it to try and tell it that we are trying hard to mend our ways when it comes to protecting Kauri and show some respect now that we have learnt lessons from the past.

Of course I didn’t  hug Tane Mahuta, even notwithstanding the crutches predicament, I respect these trees enough to heed the warnings about leaving the path as not to damage their fragile root systems.

Isn’t it amazing that such a massive tree has such a fragile root system? It seems that all living things are built with a weak link somewhere in their DNA, not even the giant is invincible or immune to all around it, and that something small could have easy access to it’s most vulnerable point shows me that no living thing is ever destined for total dominance, there should always be a point of natural balance.

I know from our Kauri Museum visit that Tane Mahuta is hollow… but to what extent this is, and for how long this amazing tree will be able to support it’s upper weight appears to be for now  unknown…  a few years or a few centuries? Just like each human life,  Tane Mahuta  too has an allotted time.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 26, 2012

Coming to Waipoua to See the Young ‘Uns…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this section of my New Zealand travel diary we are entering  the Waipoua Forest, located on the west coast of the upper peninsula that makes up Northland, New Zealand.

The open, cleared landscape that was once bush, burned off long ago to make room for both Maori and Pakeha  (white settler) agricultural efforts,  gives way to New Zealand native bush still in it’s former glory… it’s subtropical in this region, so with some very different species of vegetation to bush in the South Island but similar in that it consists of tightly packed trees and shrubs that form dense layers between the ground cover and the canopy.

Subtropical often means rain… and yes it’s raining buckets again as we enter this protected area which is also a National Forest.

This place is extra special because it’s the home of the Kauri tree… and even through the rain streaked windows of the van it’s easy to spot them, distinctive for their lack of branches on the lower section of the trunk, and for their therefore chunky rather top-heavy looking tops. And of course distinctive for their size.

All the Kauri’s I can see so far look like young ‘un’s … up to several hundred years old… we drive deeper into the Waipoua…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One of the postcards I bought to send to family and friends also featured Kauri…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 24, 2012

A Posting Back in Time, …But Can I Take My Gadgets Too?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’ve left the Kauri Museum, but literally right next door is a delightful little building reminiscent of  many New Zealand country town public service buildings. It’s an old post office and there’s an information board giving a little of it’s history.

Matakohe Post Office 1909-1988.

Early mail delivery was to Mangawhai, Waipu and Pahi. The Matakohe settlers had to make their own arrangments to pick up their mail fom these settlements.

Later on mail came to the Matakohe wharf, built in 1881. The first postmistress was Catherine Smith who issues mail from her home “Devon Grove”. When a store ws built at the Matakohe a small postal area was included. This was operated for a number of years until this post office was built in 1909.

The Matakohe post office was a centre of this area for the rural deliveries of Tinopai, Hukatere, Ararua, Oparakau and Parahi until 1988 when postal services were replaced by an agency.

It will come as no shock to find that I adored this place the moment I stepped inside… even though it’s sealed off behind a glass or perspex wall it reeks character, history, and I have a deep fascination with things like old ledgers, bank books, ink blotters and wooden post office boxes.

Maybe I was born in the wrong time…I’d love to have worked here, but I still adore (parts) of today’s technology… so it would have been a deal breaker  if I was unable to combine it with my laptop and the internet. (I know, I know… is there anything worse than a half hearted cold footed historian?).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 23, 2012

Reaching Maturity…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Amazingly even after all these posts I still haven’t covered the whole museum… there is the history of the Boarding house, more machinery, an entire hallway on New Zealand rural life, but at a certain point I’m thinking we’ve covered so much that the rest?…

… you’ll just have to come and see for yourself one day if you can. Gotta leave some surprises right?

In the meantime there’s some amazing artwork on display at the Kauri Museum … and some beautiful pieces for sale in the shop too.

This place is easily one of the highlights of our trip so far and I could happily do this all again, and again and again.

The Kauri have me in awe,  the human race has the power to cut them down physically but they in turn have the power to cut us down in a sort of emotional  and intellectual sense as their sheer size and age is dominant and inspiring.   In seeing tree rings that span two thousand years we see our own lives as puny smudges of existence in the landscape of time, and I really hope that this humbles us into trying to use our limited time as wisely as we can.

It’s traditional in New Zealand to celebrate your 21st Birthday as a very special occasion to mark your “coming of age”. Often you might be given a large key…  in wood, cardboard or some other material, to signify that you now may have your own “key to the door” and 21st Birthday cards are often in the shape of keys.  I see a carved “21st” key in the display and think it’s funny in light of being in the presence of these ancient trees that human beings think twenty-one means reaching maturity… if Kauri could speak I wonder what age wood would they set adulthood at?

… and if they could speak, with all that they could have witnessed in the 2000 year lifespan, would they think that human beings ever grew up?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 22, 2012

From Tree to Table, there are Literally Ton’s of it…

Filed under: HISTORY,LIFE,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Even wood-turning on a solid kauri workbench…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 21, 2012

A Treasure Chest of Inspiration…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s no mystery why there was  section in the Kauri Museum that displayed household equipment (which comprised mostly kitchen and laundry items) that were made of Kauri or had Kauri incorporated into them.

I’m assuming that the other non-Kauri objects were just historical items that got added to the collection, and yes, there probably was  an information panel to explain it but I was far too busy drooling over the butter churn, butter pats, rolling pin and cast iron pots to notice any information panel by that this point.

If you are a regular reader you will know some things about me… I adore detail, I like taking photos of strange things like  letter boxes, stonework, Art Deco gutter gratings, and decorated  man-hole covers. I like drawing but haven’t been doing any for years…

I’m working on fixing that in fits and starts as time, energy and mood allow. To be honest so far that adds up to many “fits”of  good intentions and not many “”starts” to go with it. My excuse is that still on pain killers and doing intensive physio for my foot, I’ve generally used up all my concentration and energy getting through the day at work and and too tired to muster too much more at home.

I’m currently looking for inspiration  because I have set myself a task to try to learn  to draw foliage better… leaves, trees and the like. When I laid eyes on this next item the acanthus scrolls make my heart skip a beat…  Here’s what I’m adding to my arty photo files… a cash register that used to hold treasure of the fiscal kind is now a cash register  treasure trove of inspiration…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 20, 2012

A Kitchen That Mangles My Heart and Churns My Emotions…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Kauri Museum in Northland New Zealand is a bit like Dr. Who’s Tardis…  it looks small on the outside but once inside, you keep finding a new bit that extends further and branches off  just around each corner.

Around this corner I discover an entire section devoted to Kauri wood incorporated into kitchen equipment… a topic as a Foodie that is close to my heart.

From butter churns to washing machine mangles, rolling pins to decorative shortbread and butter forms, I’m captivated.

Now there were a few extra non-Kauri items sneaked into the display too… and yes,  those gorgeous cast iron pots and pans had me drooling  just as much as the woodwork items did.

Foodies amongst you will understand the diversion and forgive me for it… the rest of you I will box around the ears with either the Kauri rolling pin or  a cast iron skillet… your choice !

(of course I’m only joking, Family Kiwidutch are not  a hitting family). Once again I find myself sighing wistfully at the beauty of the workmanship of these tactile tools… they were once the hard working workhorses of the “modern” kitchen and how little we appreciate not having to churn our own butter!

(but I bet that butter churn wouldn’t have looked too beautiful to the poor lady of the house who had to labour over it every day… and of course going to the gym was never a necessity for her, since she got more than her fair share of workouts in her house every day just keeping up with the housework).

Let’s take a look around…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 19, 2012

Moisturiser… We All Could Do With a Little (or Do the Cracks Still Show?)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’ve turned the quilting page of my retrospective diary detailing our New Zealand trip of December 2011 and January 2012.

We are still in the Kauri museum and are back looking at these amazingly massive trees.

I noticed that there are some containers of liquid sitting on top of one of the biggest logs…  and  found some information boards close by telling me why these containers are necessary.

What’s happening on top of the log? …Log preservation. The trunk or log of a living tree has water being pumped though part of it (sapwood) and oil and resins being stored in other parts (heartwood).

When a tree is cut down the log starts to dry out. Frequently one of the side effects of this are cracks appearing in the wood. It’s a bit like your skin getting too dry and sometimes cracking.

This log has been on display for several decades and has dried out. In order to prevent more cracks from forming we are injecting back into  he wood some wood “moisturising lotion” called polyethylene glycol (PEG for short) .

Basically we have set up four canisters on top of the log filled with PEG. From each canister there is a feed pipe leading into a hole which has been drilled about one third of the way through the trunk. We are monitoring how much PEG is being adsorbed but expect this process to take over six months.

Another thing we have done is to “seal”  the end of the log so that further moisture loss is prevented. We how that by doing this we can keep the log looking good for many more decades.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I also found it interesting  to see the saw that cut this tree down… in fact the saw was so long that I had a hard job fitting all of into the frame.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Further down there are more large logs, but this one is no longer solid near the centre and I learn:

The hollowing out of some of the large trees eventually lead to their death. In recent years two very large trees, both larger than Tane Mahuta (which is also hollow), have collapsed. Those were Toronui (Waipoua Forest) and Kopi (Omahuta Forest)

It was found that they were quite hollow and the outer wood was unable to hold up the heavy tree tops. Each has reached the age of approximately 2000 years. This log was taken out of the Herekino State Forest as a dying  tree.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last on my list of unusual  bundle of miscellaneous Kauri facts…  here is some amazing Swamp Kauri… these are the giant fallen trees have have been incarcerated in bogs of Northland and the Coromandel and been preserved still as beautiful timber. Forty-five thousand years underground just starts to blow my mind as to the time-scale that these trees have been on the planet…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then I read something that almost made my brain fuse… more Kauri, this time uncovered in massive fossilized state within the seam of  the Yallourn Open cut coal mine in Victoria, Australia.  If I thought that 45.000, years old was old then I was floored  by the next bit…  this fossilized Kauri has spent around 30 million years underground! Even more amazingly, they took a piece of it and a wood turner was able to put it onto a lathe and make this little pot out of it… still  wood after thirty million years!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 18, 2012

This Quilt gets a Big Stamp of Approval…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is the last of  the quilts that I’m detailing in the Kauri Museum.

There were so many that I could have made an individual post on… given you close ups and drooled about colour, technique, patterns and styles.

Many patterns as mentioned in a comment by GH, a fellow blogger from http://www.noodleswithbutter.blogspot.co.uk/  look like familiar American ones… if you look at my post of two days ago, indeed they probably are: quilting has gone International and quilters around the world add their own flavours, textures and colours according to their taste and the culture the pattern comes into.

This last quilt however has a flavour all of it’s own… and a theme that bought back many personal memories.

The quilt is called “Philately” and is a charity project by a local quilters group… and many of the stamps on it were ones I recognised!!!

How funny that memories came flooding back …of looking at stamps on letters as a kid and being fascinated by their designs. I even collected stamps for a little while as a child.

So sad that with the proliferation of e-mail, stamps will never really produce the same sort of memories for my children.

Not every stamp on the quilt is a New Zealand one and a few of the panels (the buzzy-bee toy) are iconic toys rather than stamps… but all in all, the wave of nostalgia that swept over me when I saw this quilt was palpable…

Yet again I’m in awe of the artisty and technical ability of these quilters. Since I’d love to learn quilting one day, these kind of exhibitions serve to both impart large measures of inspiration and intimidation…  I don’t think that anything I could produce could ever  look this amazing LOL.

Sorry if this post is rather photo heavy… there  were  twenty “stamps” featured in the quilt panel and they were all so amazing that I decided to include a close-up of each of them. I hope that you’ll agree that they are each worth their time in spotlight too.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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