Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kauri and Kaitaka

In October this year, Brian Rudman of the NZ Herald wrote:
" ... you only have to wander past the sad kauri prison at the bottom of Queen St to know that what the city considers "healthy" is not necessarily the same as the rest of us.

If the Britomart Square kauri were cows, the SPCA would be dragging the city through the courts on charges of malnutrition and cruel and unnatural imprisonment. Has no one at the council noticed that the trees closest to the sea breezes are either dead, or giving a very good impression of it."

Well, I grant that the kauri garden at Queen Elizabeth Square is as artificial as anything conceived by mankind and Council planners, but ... the trees live. I spotted some female kauri cones today.

According to Te Ara, kauri grow both male and female cones (male ones are long and thin). I've never seen kauri cones before -- might be a sign that the trees live after all.

The "kaitaka" part of this post is to do with the late Molly Macalister's sculpture, looking out toward Queen's Wharf and the harbour, "A Maori Figure in a Kaitaka Cloak" (1964-1965). More on her work here.


  1. If they're producing cones Ice then they are indeed healthy. The trees are into the secondary stage of growth. The young trees have bronze coloured leaves and are quite sickly looking. After several years the growth changes and the bronze leaves are replaced by green growth.

    They look like they're quite happy in Downtown there. I still miss the Wind Tree Sculpture they had there once upon a time. Hopefully we'll see it resurrected in the right setting

    Thansk Ice great post!

  2. Ohh, those lovely cones almost look like Christmas baubles!
    Do they get much bigger or change shape? I'm assuming they are the seed of the tree, do they open at some stage or do they need a particular weather phenomenon (like heat/fire that some Aussie trees require) to stimulate growth?

  3. If you take a look at the Te Ara link above, Jayne, you'll see that both male and female cones change once they're ready for pollination. The male cones change colour and fan out, releasing the pollen which is caught by the female cones as their scales open up. Then the female cone shelters the developing winged seeds until it darkens, opens up, and releases them to the wind.