National | Art

Te Kawerau ā Maki supports 'Kauri Ora' project

Credit / McCahon House

Te Kawerau ā Maki are supporting a collaborative project with McCahon House in Tāmaki Makaurau that will see 300 kauri saplings offered to the public to raise funds for The Kauri Project and the residence where artist Colin McCahon lived and worked.

The saplings were saved from the ravages of kauri die-back disease on the famous artist’s property in Titirangi.

”These saplings directly whakapapa to the rakau rangatira (chiefly trees) of Te Wao Nui ā Tiriwa (Waitakere forest) and are a reminder of the ability of our environment to regenerate if we act as kaitiaki and care for it," Te Kawerau ā Maki spokesperson Edward Ashby says.

The grounds of McCahon House are home to mature kauri, many of which are immortalised in McCahon’s art.

Colin McCahon, Kauri, 1953.  Credit /

In 2010, they all tested positive for kauri die-back disease, with two being felled immediately. Seeds were later harvested from the 27 remaining trees by arborists who collected cones from the tree tops. Viable seeds were then selected and potted by expert staff at the Auckland Botanic Gardens.

Now, these special saplings are being offered to the public as part of the ‘Kauri Ora’ project fundraiser. This will be used to raise awareness for the harms and potential ways to deal with die-back.

“These trees have a very meaningful lineage and are extra special as they are free of kauri dieback disease,” says Dr Nick Waipara (Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Ruapani ki Turanga), Kaihautū, Plant and Food.

"Kauri are a link not only to the distant past but also to the distant future and, with care, these trees can stand strong over our descendants. They are a living legacy and one which every citizen of the whenua has a duty to help protect, says Ashby.

"Like the many renowned artists who have tried to capture the mana of our iconic kauri we wish to celebrate them and to educate the community about their vital importance.”

A five day exhibition of kauri trees painted by McCahon, and former recipients of the McCahon House residency; Emily Karaka, Shane Cotton, Imogen Taylor and Cora-Allan Wickliffe, will accompany the saplings sale.

An open edition Kauri Ora fine art print has also been created for the project by Karaka. She will be giving an artist talk with another McCahon House artist alumni Cora-Allan Wickliffe and curator Nigel Borell. The prints will be available at the event in three different colour options.

Credit / McCahon House

The saplings will be available to purchase at a free community event ‘Kauri Ora’ from 5 to 8 May at Allpress Studio in Freemans Bay, Auckland. The trees are $100 each and can be couriered elsewhere around Aotearoa, McCahon House says.

A limited number will be available in advance online.