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Tree Information x

Identifier: NR/1736
Tree Type: Single
Registered By: Smillie, M.J.
Registration Category: Notable tree – International interest
General Notes:
In his anecdotal collection about kauri, Adams noted the presence of a dead tree at Omahuta, a “ruin of a gigantic kauri... only a short distance away [from the Kopi tree]” with a girth of 60 to 66 feet, and 66 feet to the first branch [1]. The remains of the dead tree were struck by lightning in the 1940s, further collapsing it into a small gully. An image of a visually massive, long dead tree in Omahuta is held by the Auckland Museum [2]. Another photograph, unmistakably the same tree, is held by Auckland Libraries, and was taken during an Auckland Tramping Club outing in April 1931 [3].

The 1931 image shows significant regrowth in front of the tree, and further loss of bark and branch material, implying the first image was taken somewhat earlier. The proportions of the bole fit precisely to a tree with a girth of 60 ft and merchantable length of 66 ft. That would give a merchantable volume of at least 500 m3, not counting the immense volume of wood visible above the first branch – double that of Tane Mahuta, and close to the famed Kairaru tree. The lengths of the tree fern fronds, some distance in front of the tree, in the foreground of the 1931 image, do suggest a diameter of at least 5 metres or more. If the dimensions stated by Adams are reasonably accurate, this tree is likely the largest kauri ever photographed, dead or alive.

Another photograph of the tree was published in March 1931, illustrating an article about a fire at Omahuta [4]. The caption states that the tree suffered a fire the previous year, although no further detail is given. The difference in undergrowth on the other two images does suggest the tree was dead well before 1931.

The tree is finally mentioned on page 93 in the first edition of Reed’s Story of the Kauri [5]. Ranger Corby of Omahuta State Forest confirmed the location (just outside the boundary of the then recently established sanctuary) and size of the tree to Reed as greater than Te Matua Ngahere (some 55 ft in girth), but noted it had died, rotted to a mere shell and “collapsed to matchwood” three years before, i.e. circa 1950 or a bit earlier, not even leaving a stump to measure. The revised 1964 edition of Reed’s book contains no reference to the tree.

Smillie 2021

[1] J. G. E. Adams, Kauri a king among kings, 2nd Ed., 1986.
[2] Auckland Museum, “Kauri at Omahuta” PH-RES-2439.
[3] Auckland Library, “In Omhatua Forest, Apr 1931” Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 282-483.
[4] “A Mighty Kauri,” Auckland Star, 24 March 1931.
[5] A. H. Reed, The Story of the Kauri, 1953.


Single Tree Details

Genus: Agathis
Species: australis
Common names: kauri,
Height: 46.00m
Height measurement method: Estimated
Height Comments: Scaling from early photograph suggests a height of at least 46 m
Girth: 1829 cm
Girth measurement height: 1.4 m
Girth Comments: Taken from reported girth of 60 ft
Diameter: 582.2 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 dead when photographed, and fully decayed circa 1950.
Tree Form Type: Single Trunk
Number of Trunks: 1
Tree Form Comments: Massive stem and crown apparent in photographs
Champion Tree Score: 896
Local Protection Status: No
Tree Present: No
STEM Score: 0

Observations

Date Observer Action
22 Apr 2021 Smillie, M.J.

Location

Lat/Long: -35.242199427762536 / 173.62622070312503
Location Name: Omahuta Forest
Address: Sanctuary Road
Suburb:
City/Town: Mangamuka
Region: Northland
Location Description: Said to be in a small gully near the Kopi tree, just outside the Omahuta Sanctuary
Public Accessibility: Department of Conservation
Local Authority: (not specified)

Images

Preview Credit Date
“In Omhatua Forest, Apr 1931” Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 282-483 01 Jan 1931
Auckland Museum, “Kauri at Omahuta” PH-RES-2439 01 Jan 1920
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