The kauri trees of New Zealand are among the largest and oldest on the planet, growing over 50 metres high and living for up to 4,000 years. Kauris are so tall that kokako birds - creatures long thought to be extinct - were recently found to have been living all this time unseen among their sky-high leaves.

  Ancient Maoris used these remarkable trees to build boats, since their wood is incredibly strong and resilient to water. In fact, their wood is so durable that kauris which fell into swamps thousands of years ago can still be pulled out and used today.

When cuts are made in kauri bark, gum seeps from the wounds constantly and never seals. Over centuries, these drippings form stalagmites and stalactites on branches and on the ground, which are then used to make paints, varnishes and even jewellery.

The Maori people consider kauri trees sacred and wise, because they have observed so much history. The largest kauri in New Zealand - called Tane Mahuta, the Lord of the Forest - stands in the northern Waipoua forest, home to most of the country's remaining kauris. It is 51 metres tall, has a girth of 14 metres, and is believed to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years old.

         
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