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The Kauri Museum employs “Scientist in Residence”

The Kauri Museum employs “Scientist in Residence”

The Kauri Museum at Matakohe, Northland has employed its first dendrochronologist (tree-ring specialist) as part of their on-going efforts to be a centre of excellence on all aspects relating to the kauri tree. The Board decided that the Museum would invest a “scientist in residence” in order to encourage the development of new displays and other activities that highlight scientific investigations involving kauri.

The post has been taken up by Dr Jonathan Palmer, a dendrochronologist whose primary role will be to develop an archive of ancient kauri samples for research applications involving Exeter University (UK) and Auckland University. However, although this activity will go on largely unseen by any visitor, several other projects have been started which will be seen in the Museum. One project is looking to better preserve the huge logs on display in order to try to prevent them from further drying-out and cracking. Another looks to show on a monitor actual living kauri-tree growth during the growing season while yet another will discuss kauri growth rates and how old the big trees really are. Several of the projects are in collaboration with other academic members from Auckland and Waikato Universities.

Dr Palmer also said he looked forward to developing some displays to explain how tree-rings are used to provide us information about past climate and to understand patterns of rapidly changing climate. “There is an immense store of past climate information held in the tree-rings of sub fossil kauri logs found in different parts of Northland. By being in residence here at the Museum, I hope to not only push along the research discoveries but also try to share this information with the visitors”.

The CEO of the Museum, Ms Betty Nelley said “we are thrilled to have Dr Palmer here and making a valuable contribution to our store of knowledge”.


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