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Old forest gentlemen show their age

Recent testing of some matai and kahikatea trees at a reserve near Taihape has revealed they are among the oldest specimens of their kind in the country.

The Department of Conservation says Landcare Research asked to ‘core sample’ various trees at Paengaroa Scenic Reserve and provide an estimate of their age. The study has revealed that one of the matai trees is more than 1300 years old.

According to the report, the maximum age of kahikatea trees sampled at Paengaroa was 716 years, well beyond the trees average life-span of 450 years. The oldest matai sampled was estimated at 1358 years old, more than twice its average age of 600 years.

DoC scientific staff are excited by the findings of the report, which concludes that the forest cover pre-dates Eurpoean settlement.

A core sample is obtained by boring a hollow rod (auger) into the centre of a tree. When the rod is extracted, it brings out with it a cross-section of the tree’s annual growth rings, allowing them to be counted.


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