There are so many little details to share about my New Zealand adventure, and I don’t want to bore you with everything. (Besides, I hope these posts inspire you to see New Zealand for yourself!)
However, I must talk a little about the trees that were so important to the Maori peoples, not only for their own construction but also for their commence. I’ve already written about my first encounter with the magnificent Kauri, and the historical significance of these giants.
We had an opportunity to visit to the Kauri Museum in Matakohe, as we traveled back to Auckland after our visit to the Bay of Islands. I had done my research (via TripAdvisor) and found that the locals (as well as some tourists) highly recommended this museum. So I made sure it was part of my itinerary, and I was not disappointed.
First important detail: The museum is wheelchair accessible. As the guide map showed, wheelchairs can enter the museum via the gift shop area. The aisles are wide, and ramps were available as needed.
As I wandered there were a couple of places that gave me pause: “How would Carrieanna get up here?” And then I found the lift, and my concerns were likewise lifted.
We enjoyed a 45-minute tour of the highlights of the museum. Our guide, Dennise, told us that Kauri Museum is a self-funded museum, and very well supported by the local community; there are 100 volunteers to assist the 35 paid staff members.
She went on to talk about the kauri tree, and I took many notes. Per my journal:
“The hardest of the ‘softwood’ pines, it is good for furniture, boats and other uses because it is very flexible, it floats, and it doesn’t warp under changes in temperature. The ‘gum’ or sap of the kauri was used for lacquer for, among other uses, to finish musical instruments. Some of the more beautiful pieces [of gum] were polished and made into jewelry and other pieces of art.
“Although 96% of the kauri forests have been chopped down and used, the remaining 4% is under conservation, and it is being replanted. (It’s slow-growing, and therefore long process.)
“Over many centuries, and through natural disasters, some of the kauri growing in swamp areas fell and were buried in the swamp. Our guide told us that forest upon forest is buried; there’s not an unlimited amount of trees thus preserved, but there are a lot in the Northland.
“The kauri also grows in Australia, the Philippines, and Malaysia, but none is as good as that grown in New Zealand.
We saw many examples of the furniture, boats, stairway rails and other items made from this beautiful tree.”
The locals were right. The Kauri Museum is worth visiting, and you’ll probably want to spend a few hours there!
And as an added bonus, across the street is the Pioneer Church, This structure, built in 1867 with kauri timber, served as a school, community building and non-denominational church. (And probably had a 50-person seating capacity.)