Tane Mahuta

Tane Mahuta by Ted Howard

Guest Post by Laurie Buchanan

In responding to “Dancing With TreesTed said:

 I’m rather fond of trees myself. Found a picture of Ailsa and Jewelia in the foreground, and Tane Mahuta* in the background.

Tane is a giant Kauri and one of the largest trees on the planet, not as tall as some of the giant Redwoods, but over 100ft to the first branch and over 20 ft across for that entire distance (so in tonnage of millable wood he’s right up there). He’s been standing for over 2,500 years. Prior to human settlement about a third of the land area was covered in such giants, now there are only a few hundred left.

Within and hour’s cycle of here is the largest Totara tree in the South Island, which is impressive.

All of the forest scenes in Lord of the Rings are shot in New Zealand forests, most of those shots I have walked the ground myself. They’ve altered a few landscapes with special effects, adding castles etc, but the unaltered bits are very familiar.

I like to lie in forests and think about the battles being fought between trees on timescales that my lifetime would barely register against. Many of our tree species take over a thousand years to reach maturity, and can live for over 2,000 years – not that many get the chance, earthquakes and landslips usually kill them off before then. (I think the oldest known tree is around 30,000 years old – from a time when sea level was almost 200 ft lower than it is now.)

*Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest) is New Zealand’s largest known living kauri tree.  It is thought this tree was discovered and identified in the 1920’s when contracted surveyors surveyed the present road State Highway 12 through the forest.  In 1928 Nicholas Yakas and other Bushmen, which were building the road, also identified the big tree Tane Mahuta.

According to Maori mythology Tane is the son of Ranginui the sky father and Papatuanuku the earth mother.  Tane was the child that tore his parent’s parental embrace and once done set about clothing his mother in the forest we have here today.  All living creatures of the forest are regarded as Tane’s children.

[Addendum by Ted]

I mentioned the Giant Totara above, which is about a 1 hour cycle ride from here, or a 12 minute drive and a 1 hour walk (or with permission a 25 minute drive, half in 4WD) and a 5 minute walk).

Below is a view of Ailsa and her mum (Erena) standing at the base of this tree.
Below that is a view of looking up into the tree.

Ailsa and Erena at Kaikoura's Giant Totara

Looking up toward the crown of Kaikoura's giant Totara

Below is an old shot of some of our tramp club members linking hands around the Totara.

Kaikoura Tramping Club at Giant Totara December 2007

Kaikoura Tramping Club at Giant Totara December 2007

About Laurie Buchanan

Author | Speaker
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5 Responses to Tane Mahuta

  1. GreaT Post…
    I started laughing because at first I did not know it was a guest post! Laurie LOVES trees and that is a wonderful attribute to have.

    Ted, I hope you are doing well today.

    Be well.


  2. Ted – the photographs you added are FANTASTIC! The one with everyone linking hands around the base REALLY gives some PERSPECTI VE about the GINORMITY of this PHENOMENAL tree!


  3. Peter says:

    Hi Ted – is there a DOC brochure about how to get to it? – Peter Hallinan


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