Waipoua Kauri Forest is a name known throughout New Zealand and to some extent overseas because it is the only sizable remnant and reserve of kauri that once covered an area, in remote times, of about 3,000,000 acres, mostly in North Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula. It was only after a protracted controversy and petition to Parliament that it was in 1952 proclaimed a reserve – the Waipoua Forest Sanctuary of 22,500 acres – under the New Zealand Forest Act of 1949. Some of the first expeditions made to New Zealand towards the end of the eighteenth century were for the purpose of seeking kauri spars; such was the value of the timber. From then onwards, the felling of kauri continued uninterrupted until only remnants of the great forests remained – hence the public agitation to have the best of these remnants, the Waipoua, reserved.
An area of 35,000 acres at Waipoua was acquired by the Crown in 1874 from two Maori chieftains for the sum of £2,200. In 1885 the area was gazetted a State forest under a Forests Act passed in that year. When a State Forest Service was set up in 1920, plans formulated for the Waipoua Forest were for permanent kauri management. It was also to be used as a centre for investigation and experiment. Unfortunately, the creation of a sanctuary of 22,500 acres of forest left only a small part of the kauri stands available for management. The object of the sanctuary is to preserve the indigenous flora and fuana in their natural state, and to provide opportunities for scientific and like purposes. Waipoua contains extensive stands of kauri and is famous for having one of the largest remaining kauri trees – Tanemahutu.
There is also a small but beautiful reserve of kauri trees at Trounson Park, Aronga, near Dargaville.
by Alec Lindsay Poole, M.SC., B.FOR.SC., F.R.S.N.Z., Director-General of Forests, Wellington.