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Kauri Die Back


23 January 2013

During the 1950s there were probably very few people who looked at and studied kauri as closely as New Zealand’s foremost painter Colin McCahon.

He would look up at the majestic trees that surrounded his little bach in French Bay Titirangi, blur his eyes to simplify the outlines of the trees and then proceeded to paint numerous paintings of the tall pillars which are such a feature of the Waitakere forests.

These days there are many more eyes turned on the kauri, not however to depict their splendour, but to try and preserve them.

At the end of this month two of the very trees that so inspired McCahon are being carefully cut down. They have both succumbed to the kauri dieback disease which is attacking kauri in the Waitakere Ranges and elsewhere. A number of other kauri around the restored bach are also infected and the McCahon House Trust which has faithfully restored the little bach and fosters today’s artists in a residency next door, is working closely with Auckland Biosecurity to try to halt the course of the disease and to stop its spread through important artistic heritage site.

Anyone walking in areas of kauri can help minimise the spread of this disease by washing their footwear at cleaning stations provided at many parks or at home between forest visits. Make the effort, for it would be very sad if future generations were only able to experience the wonder of these trees through photographs and the works of artists like Colin McCahon.


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