Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 41 comments

The McKinney Kauri 3386

One of Aotearoa’s rākau rangatira, or chiefly trees, is the kauri, Agathis australis, which can grow to be more than 30 meters tall. Shown here on February 6th in the Parry Kauri Park in Warkworth on New Zealand’s North Island is a portion of the so-called McKinney kauri, which is more than 800 years old, and which you can read more about. Notice the flaking bark that characterizes mature kauris, and that in this case looks like plaques of lichen.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 24, 2015 at 5:31 AM

41 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. ahh homesick 🙂


    March 24, 2015 at 6:22 AM

  2. That’s quite an impressive trunk. Good thing it is there and not here or it would just be looked at in terms of board feet.

    Steve Gingold

    March 24, 2015 at 6:30 AM

    • Many of them were looked at in those terms and were cut accordingly. I am glad that these magnificent specimens were spared that fate. Perhaps one did not mess with Rev Robert McKinney.
      “fr PCI, Min at Saltersland, Co Derry Irel; arr Ak 8.10.1856; he was present at 1st meeting of AP on 14.10.1856 –
      Ord 1.5.1854
      Ind Mahurangi (Warkworth NSP) 3.12.1856, the day the new Ch was opened. ret 1904 finally, but eased off fr 1890. The parish was notable for much boat rowing to visit the people. ‘His was a scattered parish. It was so intersected with rivers & inlets of the sea as to make visitation difficult & on alternate Suns he had to pull himself in his own boat, often against wind & tide, about 14 miles, besides preaching at least twice, – a work without parallel in the history of modern clerical life.’
      Mod Ass 1874
      Died 9.5.1905” http://www.archives.presbyterian.org.nz/Page180.htm
      He seems to have been a strong specimen himself.


      March 24, 2015 at 7:21 AM

      • Thanks for that information to back up your apt comparison between the tree and the man it’s named for. I wonder if McKinney did anything to preserve it or if it survived on its own. Even when he arrived there the kauri was more than 600 years old, so it would have caught his attention.

        Steve Schwartzman

        March 24, 2015 at 7:46 AM

      • For a species that has so much potential, we do wreak our bit of havoc. So glad this McKinney Kauri was spared the axe, Gallivanta. Rev. McKinney himself sounds a very rugged and determined gentleman. I do not think the like is paddling about today. Thanks for sharing that bit of history.

        Steve Gingold

        March 24, 2015 at 7:11 PM

    • Two days ago I was talking to a friend about the way so many venerable trees were cut down in New Zealand, and he made a similar observation about the redwoods in California.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 24, 2015 at 7:36 AM

  3. It breaks my heart to compare photos of my grandmother’s place in northern California to the same street today~redwoods gone. That song about cutting down the trees and putting up a parking lot is too painfully true. It is good to see a big ole tree here.


    March 24, 2015 at 8:13 AM

    • On a smaller scale, already this season I’ve noticed that two properties where I’ve taken nature pictures in other years are newly under construction. I hope we’re not on track to surpass the four properties that were lost in 2014.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 24, 2015 at 8:54 AM

      • Ack! It isn’t as though we humans are creating anything particularly lovely or worthwhile in exchange for the natural world we are paving over.


        March 24, 2015 at 10:27 AM

        • One of the properties lost last year that I’d worked at many times in the past decade is now largely covered with apartments. A bit of nature survives adjacent to the new apartments, but I don’t know for how long.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 24, 2015 at 10:32 AM

          • I’m sorry to hear that. I believe your area has been “discovered”, hasn’t it? Never a good thing. The same has happened here, as Chicago has sprawled out this way and beyond. My favorite stand of oak trees is for sale, now. I just wish people that think development was great would be content to cluster in one place (New York city, say) and leave wild areas alone. Most of us who value it can’t afford to buy it up to protect it.


            March 24, 2015 at 10:39 AM

            • Forbes lists Austin as the second-fastest-growing city in the country:


              Numbers 1 (Houston) and 3 (Dallas) are also in Texas, as are #8 (Fort Worth) and #10 (San Antonio). It’s inevitable that development will continue here, but I wish developers could bring themselves to leave a portion of each tract in a natural state.

              In a few cases people have raised money to protect a parcel from development (including right here in my neighborhood a few years ago), but you’re right that it’s hard in expensive areas to raise the necessary money.

              Steve Schwartzman

              March 24, 2015 at 12:02 PM

              • Our preserves were purchased by the forest preserve district. Is there an equivalent organization there? They passed referendums for money to buy land, and now have moved into management mode. It is very exciting.
                I was delighted to see the Trout Lily on your shop~thank you. I entered my information immediately to purchase it, but got a message that it could not be processed and to try again later. Do you know what that might mean?


                March 26, 2015 at 12:42 PM

                • I’m not aware of a forest preserve district here, but there are governmental and non-profit agencies that buy land outright or purchase conservation easements to keep land from getting developed. Austin has a fair number of greenbelts and preserves, although some aren’t open to the public in general or even to nature photographers like me.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  March 26, 2015 at 1:40 PM

                • That is interesting. Doesn’t seem right to keep people out. I’m relieved to hear that land is being set aside, though.


                  March 27, 2015 at 8:02 AM

                • The reason is to try to keep the preserves as protected as possible. I don’t like being excluded myself, but I understand that if those tracts get opened, some people will ride mountain bikes, carve initials in trees (or worse, cut down trees), spray graffiti, shoot animals, throw trash, and do other things that will degrade the properties. Of course some people sneak into places now and do those things, but it would happen more often if the properties were fully open.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  March 27, 2015 at 9:27 AM

              • Ah-ha! I entered the wrong exp. date. Hooray, I am so excited! I chose the black frame with the gold liner~ it is gorgeous. I can’ t wait for it to come. Thanks, Steve


                March 26, 2015 at 12:48 PM

  4. Great shot. Very impressive tree.

    Raewyn's Photos

    March 24, 2015 at 3:17 PM

    • This was the biggest kauri I saw, and one you may have visited during your years in Auckland.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 24, 2015 at 5:00 PM

  5. Fascinating bit of info, love the perspective for your photo.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    March 24, 2015 at 3:18 PM

    • It was hard to photograph the whole tree in a way that conveyed its size, and gray-white skies are something I don’t like to aim up into. I decided to focus on a portion of the massive trunk and minimize the amount of overcast sky I had to include.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 24, 2015 at 5:08 PM

  6. The kauri are truly the stuff of legend. Kauri forests once blanketed extensive areas of the North Island until they were nearly decimated for ship masts and staves, lumber, and dams. The remaining stands of mature kauri were finally brought under government protection in 1952. The main haven for mature kauri today is in the 9,105-hectare Waipoua Sanctuary, which contains the oldest living kauri, Tane Ngahere (Father of the Forest), which is 2,000 years old, and also the largest, Tane Mahuta (Lord [or King] of the Forest), which is 51.5 meters tall with a trunk 4.4 meters in diameter and 13.77 meters in girth, and a distance to the first branch of 17.7 meters. I’ve visited Tane Mahuta twice, and it’s an experience I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.


    March 24, 2015 at 3:38 PM

    • I looked up the Waipoua Forest and found it’s on the west side of the northern peninsula of the North Island. The closest to it that I got was Kerikeri on the eastern side. Maybe someday I’ll be able to return and fill in some of my many gaps.

      I’ve been telling people here in Austin about the way the English destroyed so much of the native bush in New Zealand. In particular they cut down the large trees, for the reasons you mentioned. Most of those giant natives, which tend to be slow-growing, are now replaced with plantations of non-native pines, which grow quickly. In many places where I drove in New Zealand I saw pines, or denuded places where pines had been harvested, and often enough even pines in the act of being harvested.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 24, 2015 at 5:17 PM

  7. Speaking of vertical shots, this one is terrific, even if a bit vertigo-inducing!

    Susan Scheid

    March 25, 2015 at 3:17 PM

    • Funny you should mention vertigo, because I saw a television commercial the other day saying that a restored version of Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” would be shown in theaters this week. Too bad Grace Kelly wasn’t around to pose by the kauri tree for me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 25, 2015 at 4:00 PM

  8. This kauri reminds me of another wonderful tree: the baobab. I’m most familiar with the varieties in Africa, but I see that Australia has a baobab, too. As far as I can tell, the only baobab in New Zealand is the Baobab Cafe in Wellington, but when you have the kauri, who needs a baobab tree?

    Is it my imagination, or do many of the trees and tree ferns show a growth pattern of very tall trunks and most of the growth at the top? It seems that the forest there is a bit like the Liberian bush — tall, tall trees that create canopies high in the air, and dense undergrowth with an assortment of smaller trees and vines.
    (This started me thinking about Liberian trees. Here’s a great cotton tree.)


    March 26, 2015 at 7:18 PM

    • And I’m most familiar with the baobab from drawings in St. Exupéry’s Le petit prince (The Little Prince), which I read parts of when I held the book behind and partly under my desk in high school physics class. Lucky you that you got to see real ones. I just looked at the Baobab Cafe on the map of Wellington and I’m pretty sure I never made it to that part of the city and therefore never drove past it. As you said (or at least implied: when in New Zealand, do as the New Zealanders do (which here means opt for the kauri—at least the ones that previous generations somehow failed to cut down).

      At times I did notice tall trunks with foliage mostly at the top, but I can’t say how representative that is. I also saw trees with foliage at various heights, and ferns that looked like the kinds we have here.

      I don’t think I’d heard of the cotton tree, but from your photograph I’d be happy to be in the presence of some real ones.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 26, 2015 at 7:50 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: