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Tree Information x

Identifier: NR/1375
Tree Type: Single
Registered By: Smillie, M.J.
Registration Category: Historic tree – National interest
General Notes:
In and around the Kaihu valley, north of Dargaville, grew some of the largest kauri ever known. East of the valley was Tutamoe Mountain where Kairaru, the largest kauri reliably measured, grew on a southeastern spur. North of the valley is Waipoua forest, containing the largest known trees today. Trounson Kauri Park, most of which was donated by James Trounson circa 1919, lies in the north of the valley and contains the densest remaining kauri dominated forest.

The current Trounson Kauri Park, a few kilometers north of current day Kaihu (known as Oponaki /Opoanke until around the end of the 19th century) has concealed the memory of the first kauri park in the region, also partially donated by James Trounson around the turn of the 20th century. Called variously the Maungatu Reservation Park, Kaihu Kauri Park, Kaihu Forest Reserve, and even “The Peoples Park” , the reserve consisted of around 3 hectares of trees purchased by the government in 1890 (possibly as a land swap with the Mitchelson Brothers [1]), with an additional 10 or so hectares donated by Trounson a few years later, certainly before 1903[2]. Described as anywhere from three, five, nine or ten miles by road from Kaihu, the park was adjacent to Trounson’s own forestry and milling operations in the Wairau Bush. One of the reasons for the reserve was that it contained the largest known tree in the country at that time.

A contemporary reference labels the tree as the Maungatu Kauri[3]. Sale labeled the tree as the “Trounson big kauri or the great kauri tree of the Kaihu Forest” [4], along with a photograph of the tree, taken by Josiah Martin of Auckland. Martin was not the only person to photograph the tree. A number of photographs of the tree are held in the online collections of the National Museum, the Auckland Library heritage collections, and the Auckland Museum. All show a massive trunk extending with little taper to a mass of huge, horizontal branches.

Contemporary references to the girth of the tree range from 49 feet 6 inches (15.1 m, or a diameter of 4.81 m), to a somewhat exaggerated 78 feet. Sale states the girth as 15 to 16 m, with a bole 12.5 to 15 m to the first branch, little taper (5%) and a timber content “perhaps a little bit less than that of Tane Mahuta”. A contemporary reference has the timber content as “50,000 ft” (presumably board feet, or 118 cubic metres, sawn). This is a somewhat underestimate of the size of the tree. At a girth of 15.1 m, a bole of 15 m and a taper of 5%, the total volume of stem timber would actually approach 260 cubic metres, or about the same as Tane Mahuta.

As measurements of total height and crown spread were not important to the timber industry at the time, such measurements were not available in contemporary references to the tree. As a conservative first approximation, a crown with a spread of 30 m and a height above the first branches of 25 m (both typical for the largest kauri trees) would result in a height of approximately 40 m.

The Kaihu tree appeared to be in magnificent health at the start of the 20th century, with no major loss of limbs or dieback. However, the removal of the surrounding forest exposed the tree to further risk. In late January 1907, fire spread from neighbouring cleared land to the surrounding bush, consuming some of Trounson’s forest, and around half of the 20 acres of the reserve, including this magnificent tree. Trounson later donated a further amount of the neighbouring forest to form the current day Trounson Kauri Park. That is a treasure today, but sadly absent what was the largest known kauri tree at the start of the 20th century.

[Smillie, 2016]

[1] New Zealand Herald, Volume XLIV, Issue 13400,, 31 January 1907.
[2] “The Awakening of the North,” New Zealand Herald, Volume XL, Issue 12186, 4 February 1903.
[3] The New Zealand Graphic, p. 730, 20 September 1902.
[4] E. V. Sale, The Quest for the Kauri, Reed, 1978.
[5] The New Zealand Graphic, p. 1147, 25 April 1903.

Single Tree Details

Genus: Agathis
Species: australis
Common names: kauri,
Given Name: Mangatu Kauri, Kaihu Kauri, Trounson Giant
Height: 40.00m
Height measurement method: Estimated
Height Comments: Based on known bole plus typical crown for large kauri.
Girth: 1510 cm
Girth measurement height: 1.4 m
Girth Comments: References state 49'6"
Diameter: 480.6 cm
Crown Spread A: 30.00m
Crown Spread B: 30.00m
Avg. Crown Spread: 30.00m
Actual Planting Date: actual date not specified
Approx. Planting Date:
e.g. circa. 1860
Current Age: not known years
Tree Health Description: Was in its prime when killed.
Tree Form Type: Single Trunk
Number of Trunks: 1
Tree Form Comments: Massive 15 m bole with little taper.
Champion Tree Score: 750
Local Protection Status: Yes
Tree Present: No
STEM Score: 0


Date Observer Action
13 Jun 2016 Smillie, M.J.


Lat/Long: -35.7226621791451 / 173.65258253302886
Location Name: The old Kaihu Kauri Park
Address: Kauri Park Road
City/Town: Donnellys Crossing
Region: Northland
Location Description: The tree was located in the original reserve near the current day Trounson Kauri park. The actual location is not known, but is thought to neighbour the existing Trounson Kauri Park and adjacent the old Kauri Park Road.
Public Accessibility: This tree no longer exists
Local Authority: Far North District Council


Preview Credit Date
NZ Graphic Magazine, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-19060505-31-1 05 May 1906
Josiah Martin ca 1903. NZ Graphic Magazine,Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-19070209-11-1 01 Jan 1903
Anon, circa 1900. Auckland Museum reference PH-NEG-C8541 01 Jan 1900
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