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Tree Information x

Identifier: NR/0805
Tree Type: Single
Registered By: Cadwallader, B.G.
Registration Category: Notable tree – International interest
General Notes:

Despite there being no one present to witness the falling of 'Toronui', we can be certain the calamitous event resounded throughout the remote corner of Waipoua Forest where it once held domain.

This mighty tree was thought to have fallen in mid-March 1977 but was not discovered until the following April Easter weekend when the Fletcher and Brown families from Whangamata tramped in to see the tree. They later donated the accompanying image of the fallen tree to The Kauri Museum[1].

Those investigating the tree following its demise found it to be largely hollow. Across its diameter of 4.84m, only 10-12 cm at the outside was sound wood with a further 30 cm of wood being decayed. The remainder was hollow so that when it fell it was said to resemble a large cavern[2].

Is it clear from the early images of the tree that Toronui had been extensively bled for its gum, as was typical of many of our great trees. Knowing what we do today about the relationship between wounding and internal decay it should come as no great surprise that this practice would have played a significant role in 'Toronui’s' demise.

Up until this time 'Toronui' was considered to be the largest living kauri of recent times. It was said to be a well-balanced tree that was not the thickest nor tallest nor longest clean-boled kauri, but was rated at 286.5 cubic metres of merchantable volume, and so was one-sixth bigger than Tane Mahuta at the time[3].

Whilst the discovery and measurement of the tree by forestry worker Jack Boys and ranger Reg Murray occurred sometime in 1926[3], it was not until February 1932 that the first image of 'Toronui' was published in newspapers of the day[4]. Contemporary reports describe the tree:

“The branch spread is enormous, being about two and a-half chains to three chains in width, and there is more timber in some of the branches than in the whole of an ordinary tree.” [5]

“At a point some sixteen feet above the ground there is a little platform where bark and humus have accumulated behind thick masses of astelia. Upon this platform the man is standing in the published photograph. The trunk proper may be considered to commence at this level...At a point six feet above the platform the tree is no less than fifty feet in circumference, while the distance from the platform to the first branch is thirty-eight feet. The trunk shows no taper, but its symmetry is somewhat broken by a series of rounded flanges that traverse its entire length. At regular intervals of four or five feet the bark bears regular rows of deep incisions, the remains of the axescarfs of gum-bleeders, who, in former times, roamed the forest and exploited the trees for gum. The crown, which is lofty and of unusual spread and is supported on great gnarled branches which in themselves dwarf many a forest tree, somewhat offsets the thickness of the trunk and redeems the tree from extreme squatness. Below the level of the platform where, at an unusual height above the ground, the origins of the great, widespreading roots bulge the trunk, the girth of the tree is very materially increased, but it was preferred to record as the true girth the distance round the clean and even bole that rises uniformly above.” [6]

Only 50 years passed from discovery until the day it fell as a result of the hand of man. One might hope that the tree would finally be left in peace but the final chapter came to be written on another Easter weekend in 1982. A tramping party from the Auckland University Field Club walked in to see the fallen giant only to find that vandals had recently burnt the once-enormous log[7]. 

(Cadwallader, B & Smillie, M. 2016)

1) Lunch with a Fallen Giant, 28 April 2011 The Kaipara Lifestyler
2) Burstall, S.W. and Sale, E.V. (1984). Great trees of New Zealand. A.H. and A.W. Reed Ltd., Wellington.
3) Sale, E.V. (1978). Quest for the Kauri. A.H. and A.W. Reed Ltd. Wellington.
4) Auckland Weekly News. 10 February, 1932 p.31
5) New Zealand Herald, Volume LXIX, Issue 21102, 9 February 1932, Page 11
6) New Zealand Herald, Volume LXIX, Issue 21112, 20 February 1932, Page 1
7) Auckland University Field Club records, 1923-1994. Field Club Notes 1982 p. 247

Single Tree Details

Genus: Agathis
Species: australis
Common names: kauri,
Given Name: Toronui
Height: 40.54m
Height measurement method: Unknown
Height Comments: Exact method of measurement unknown but the use of abney levels and hypsometers where standard issue in the 70's.
Girth: 1521 cm
Girth measurement height: 2 m
Girth Comments: The girth was taken 2 m above the top of the pukahukahu (humus) mound, which was itself 5 m above ground level.
Diameter: 484.1 cm
Crown Spread A: 50.00m
Crown Spread B: 50.00m
Avg. Crown Spread: 50.00m
Actual Planting Date: actual date not specified
Approx. Planting Date:
e.g. circa. 1860
Current Age: not known years
Tree Health Description: Fell in 1977
Tree Form Type: Single Trunk
Number of Trunks: 1
Tree Form Comments: (none)
Champion Tree Score: 773
Local Protection Status: No
Tree Present: No
STEM Score: 0


Date Observer Action
31 Jan 1926 Murray, R. & Boys, J.


Lat/Long: -35.635391 / 173.581625
Location Name: Waipoua Forest
Address: State Highway 12
City/Town: Waipoua
Region: Northland
Location Description: The tree was very isolated. The map marker showing where the trees was located is indicative only.
Public Accessibility: This tree no longer exists
Local Authority: Far North District Council


Preview Credit Date
Fletcher, T. The kauri Museum Collection 18 Apr 1977
Tudor Collins, Weekly News. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries. AWNS-19320210-31-1 10 Feb 1932
Collins,T.W. [View of two men with a dog in front of a Kauri tree]. Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira. PH-2013-7-TC-B911-04. CC-BY 4.0. 00 Feb 1932
Copyright © New Zealand Notable Trees Trust 2009. The NZNTT register is provided and supported by Turboweb.