Giant Trees Forge Friendship

by Paul Campbell

The giant cedar tree Jomon Sugi, on the island of Yakushima in Japan


A delegation of prominent Kaipara citizens is bound for Japan next month with the aim of forming a tangible link between the Waipoua Forest and it’s giant kauri trees, including Tane Mahuta, and a similar forest of giant cedar, with a figurehead tree, revered as Jomon Sugi, on the island of Yakushima.

The New Zealand kauri forest and its Japanese counterpart, which has National Heritage status, have been drawn together in an initiative involving Te Roroa, Footprints Waipoua, The Kauri Museum and Tourism New Zealand.

"The delegation from here will include Steven King from the Waipoua Forest Trust, Alex Nathan from Te Toroa, Betty Nelley, curator of The Kauri Musem and Shane Lloydd, from Footprints," said the interim general manager of Te Roroa, Wayne Blisset.

"This visit reciprocates a visit from Yakushima to Kaipara that took place last year. The delegation which leaves on March 7, returning on March 12, will be looking at cementing relationships between the two forests and its great trees, in a similar vein to a ‘sister-city’ programme.

"It is hoped that there will eventually be an exchange of people between here and there."

A delegation from Japan visited Kaipara last year to help investigate the relationship between the two forests and museums.

In the island’s cedar forest, there is an echo of Tane Mahuta, in Jomon Sugi, a tree that attracts thousands of visitors who tramp for five hours to its mountainside location.

The Yakushima Museum is also a reflection of the mission of The Kauri Museum in preserving forest history.

The Kauri Museum Curator and delegation member, Betty Nelley, says she sees the mission to Japan as an opportunity to forge links between the two museums.

"I hope to establish a relationship whereby we will be able to host displays from the cedar forest and the musuem there on a reciprocal basis, with displays from The Kauri Museum featuring among other exhibit material, details of Tane Mahuta and other iconic New Zealand kauri, travelling to Japan."

"I also hope to promote bilateral relationship and encourage Japanese visitors both to our museum and to the Twin Coast Discovery Highway, Waipoua Forest, and the other attractions we have to offer."

Shane Lloydd, of Footprints, has visited Yakushima on two occasions, with the aim of fostering closer relations in areas of culture, business and exchange programmes.

The Curator of Yakusugi Museum, Kaoru Matsumoto, visited Kaipara with last years Japanese delegation which was supported by the regional manager for Tourism New Zealand in Japan, Jason Hill, who said at the time that there were "amazing opportunities for everyone in forming these relationships."

The Yakusugi Museum tells the story of logging the giant cedars over 500 years to supplement the livelihood of the people of Yakushima, reflecting the role here of the The Kauri Museum.

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