Celebrating the kauri at the heart of cultural tourism

A cultural tourism project is being launched in Northland to celebrate New Zealand's iconic kauri tree.

An inaugural Northland Kauri Festival will run throughout the region for two weeks from next Monday.

It will feature 34 events, including guided night walks through the Waipoua and Puketi kauri forests, kauri wood carving demonstrations in Whangarei and the Far North, and kauri tree planting in some areas.

The kauri festival aims to attract visitors and tourists, especially from Auckland, to a range of locations and events to experience the stately tree both within and outside Northland kauri forests.

The festival, co-ordinated by the regional tourism agency Destination Northland and Enterprise Northland with support from the Tourism Ministry and Tourism New Zealand, is being promoted through a fold-out information map and directory that will guide visitors around the region.

It tells the story of Northland from the viewpoint of a 2000-year-old kauri tree.

Festival spokeswoman Tara Rowe says it's the first time Northland has taken ownership of the kauri theme.

The festival's second week is timed to coincide with the first week of the school holidays which start on September 24.

Event listings can be obtained through Destination Northland.

Vanishing giants

* The arrival of European settlers in the 19th century saw the decimation of kauri forests.

* Kauri forests once covered 1.2 million hectares; now they have been reduced to 80,000ha.

* Trunks of young kauri were ideal for ships' masts and spars and mature trees yielded sawn timber of unsurpassed quality for building.

* Kauri gum, too, became essential in the manufacture of varnishes.

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