Maori and the Kauri

Professor John Salmon says that to the ancient Maori, kauri ranked second only to the totara in importance.

Some of the greatest northern war canoes were constructed out of single massive kauri trunks, felled in the forest after elaborate tapu-lifting ceremonies, then hollowed out with fire and stone tools. The hulls of canoes made from single trunks in this way were known to reach 25 metres.

Burning kauri gum was used for heating and lighting, and a powder from the soot was used in tattooing. Kauri gum was used by the Maori for cooking and lighting because it burns very easily.They made torches with it to attract fish at night.

It was also used as a pigment to make the dark colours in tattoos, and as a chewing gum (after it had been soaked in water and mixed with the milk of the puha plant).