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The Kauaeranga Valley in New Zealand's North Island was once covered in vast kauri forests. The trees were immense with thick, straight trunks. When the first Europeans came to New Zealand, they discovered that kauri trunks made excellent replacement masts and spars for sailing ships. Soon Kauri became the preferred local timber by carpenters and ship builders because the wood was durable, strong, straight and evenly grained. They had relatively few knots, and were easy to work and nail.

Initially, the settlers cut the kauri trees that grew in isolation near the sea. But as kauri’s fame as a timber tree grew and demand increased, teams of pit sawyers moved into the forest interior to cut logs into boards for the local and export markets. The first shipment of kauri timber left New Zealand in November 1820.

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The Dancing Camp Kauri Dam, built in 1924, is one of the best remaining driving dam in Kauaeranga Valley in Coromandel Forest Park, in the North Island. Photo credit: Alan Cressler/Flickr

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