TANE MAHUTA & FOREST
The forests of Waipoua comprise the garden of Tane Mahuta. Waipoua and the adjoining forests of Mataraua and Waima make up the largest remaining tract of native forest in Northland. Most of Northland’s ancient forest cover has been lost to saw and fire, plundered for the precious timber of the kauri tree or cleared for farmland. However, the forests are now under the protection of the Department of Conservation.
Tāne Mahuta is a giant kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest of Northland Region, New Zealand. Its age is unknown but is estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years. It is the largest kauri known to stand today. Its Māori name means "Lord of the Forest".
In Māori mythology, Tāne (also called Tāne Mahuta, Tāne nui a Rangi, and several other names) is the god of forests and of birds, and the son of Ranginui and Papatūanuku, the sky father and the earth mother, who lie in a tight embrace. Their many children live in the darkness between them (Grey 1956:2).
The children of Rangi and Papa grew frustrated at their confinement in the cramped space between their parents. Tū, future god of war, proposes that they should kill their parents. But Tāne (or Tāne-mahuta) disagrees, suggesting that it is better to separate them, sending Rangi into the sky and leaving Papa below to care for them. Tāne's brothers Rongo, then Tangaroa, Haumia-tiketike and Tū all try in vain to separate the parents. After many tries, Tāne lies on his back and pushes with his strong legs, and finally forces his parents apart, and Rangi rises high into the heavens (Grey 1956:2-3).
It is said that Tane then clothed his father in stars, and his mother in the forest we enjoy today.
Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest) is New Zealand’s largest known living kauri tree. It is thought this tree was discovered and identified by in the 1920s when contracted surveyors surveyed the present road State Highway 12 through the forest. In 1928, Nicholas Yakas and other Bushmen who were building the road also identified the big tree Tane Mahuta.
About the Kauri
Kauri trees occasionally create unusual growth forms. At times, the trunks of two, three, four, five and even six trees can grow joined together at the base of the trees. In the Waipoua Forest Conservation Estate is a group of trees known as the Four Sisters. You will see four Kauri trees, with evenly spaced slender trunks, arising from a large mound of pukahukahu. A similar growth can be seen in Trounson Kauri Park to the south.
The drive on SH12 winds through magnificent stands of tall kauri, rimu and northern rata, and offers extensive views in a few places.
Good walking tracks give easy access to the most spectacular attractions of the forest: the giant trees Tane Mahuta, Te Matua Ngahere and Yakas. A few tramping tracks and routes are also available for those who wish to venture deeper into the forest, especially in the high plateau and ranges.