November 2017 – The lone kauri at Aongatete

The long loop track at Aongatete leads gently up into the Kaimai forest. The forest changes as you climb. The lowland trees like puriri and kohekohe give way to tanekaha, totara, miro and the white-flowered tawari. If you turn west and scramble along bait line 23, you will get a surprise. You will find a lone kauri tree. It is taller than the surrounding forest and must be more than 100 years old. Aongatete is beyond the southern margin of kauri forest, which stops rather abruptly at Hot S...
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September 2017 – Flowers of the Forest

Most of the flowers in the native forest are not showy. Many are small, white and – to our eyes – boring. But flowers are not designed to please us but to attract animals to carry pollen from flower to flower to fertilise their seeds. Pollinating insects like bees and butterflies can see colours but New Zealand had few native butterflies and only small, solitary bees (the familiar honey bee is introduced.) But we have hundreds of native moths, beetles and ants, and these insects are colou...
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Kevin Hague visits the Forest

  On the 13th July 2017, Kevin Hague, the CEO of Forest and Bird, visited the Forest. We used the opportunity to invite some of our key supporters for morning tea, and to hear an address from David Peters, the secretary and deputy chair of the Aongatete Forest Project, on behalf of the Trust. His speech follows:- First of all I’d like to welcome you all and thank you for coming. In particular, I’d like to welcome Kevin Hague, the Chief Executive Officer of our main partner in the ...
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April 2017 – Giant moss

A giant grows at Aongatete. It’s not a tree or a fern or a flower – it’s a moss. It is the Giant moss, the tallest moss in the world. Mosses are usually short, like green carpet under the trees, but the Giant moss looks like a miniature forest of pine seedlings. Up to 50cm tall, a forest of Giant moss grows along the banks of the track near the Aongatete swimming hole. The Giant moss only grows in New Zealand and its scientific name is Dawsonia superba, Dawsonia aft...
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Curious creatures get along just fine

photo by David Mudge
Some partnerships just seem right – cheese and crackers, McCaw and Carter, bats and wood roses. These last two get along perfectly because New Zealand’s short-tailed bat is about the only bat in the world to spend most of its life on the forest floor. The wood rose is a parasitic plant that lives on tree roots and relies on the bat to pollinate its flowers. These bats and wood roses are rarities and, like many of New Zealand’s unique species, are struggling to survive. The Departmen...
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January 2017 – Rata

Everyone loves the pohutukawa with its crimson canopy of flowers. But fewer people know its cousins, the rata trees and vines. Several vine species grow in the forest at Aongatete and it is a white rata that is flowering at present. Each flower, like that of the pohutukawa, is a tiny cup filled with nectar and fringed with stamens. Tui and honey bees love the nectar. Amongst our climbing rata species there are several with white flowers, one with spectacular pinkish...
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July 2016 – Kohekohe

Mid-winter in the forest is a hungry time for nectar-feeding birds. They welcome the flowers of the kohekohe, which is flowering now. With its big, divided leaf and dangling clusters of waxy, white flowers, it looks too showy and exotic for our native forest. For the kohekohe is special, being the only member of the tropical mahogany family which is native to New Zealand. Kohekohe flowers are unusual in that they sprout in bunches directly from the tree trunk or branches. This is thou...
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May 2016 – Rare fern discovered

The king fern is a magnificent plant. Its glossy fronds grow up to three metres long and a metre wide. It looks rather like a big tree fern without a trunk. The king fern belongs to a tropical family and only grows in lowland forest from Kaitaia to the Bay of Plenty. Once it was very common and its large, starchy root was an important food for Maori in pre-European times. But now it has been decimated by pigs, which dig up and eat the roots, and by deer and goats which browse the fronds. Kin...
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