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  • Standing in front of a 2000 (Tane Mahuta) and a 4000 ( Te Matua Ngahere) year old Kauri tree, towering high above you, makes you feel very tiny and humble. You can take a picture but it will never give you a good impression of the mightiness of these giant trees. You don't just look at these kauri's, it's like you're granted an audience, and you stare at them in amazement. Tane Mahuta is with its 51 m officially the world's highest Kauri tree, hence the name 'Lord of the Forest'. Te Matua Nghare is 'only' 30 meters high, but is the oldest kauri and if you ask me the most impressive one, with a girth of 16,4 m. A challenge for every tree hugger :-)

    You can make your way through the Waipoua Kauri Forest (New Zealand) during daytime, when all other tourists arrive to quickly take their snapshots, but for a more profound experience I can highly recommend a so called twilight walk. Our group got picked up from our accomodation in beautiful Hokianga by Tafodi (actually, I have no idea how to spell that name, this is just what it sounded like), a big and kind Maori guy, who would take us on a magical tour through the forest as daylight was fading. He called us 'whanau', wich means 'family' in Maori. Tafodi turned out to be an excellent guide, telling us about the forest, tea trees, silver ferns, kauris, Maori culture, in his own special way.

    The highlight of the walk was meeting Te Matua Ngahere. We didn't just walk up to the Father of the Forest. Maori tradition calls for a prayer or blessing before you actually face the tree, and then when you turn the corner and have a first's magical! There was this peaceful silence in the forest, not many other people around us, and we took our time to become fully aware of the mighty presence of this 4000 year old tree. I kept on thinking that all these thousands of years when the world changed, civilizations came and went, and all this time this Kauri tree was around, growing in this forest and today still continuing to grow. The sad thing is that only 4% of the entire New Zealand Kauri tree population is preserved. Kauri trees were massively cut down when European settlers came to NZ. So a lot of effort is put in preserving what's left. As darkness set in Tafodi performed a song to honour Te Matua Ngahere. It nearly felt like there was a presence higher than us humans. A very spiritual experience, even for us rational Western people who normally don't sing to trees :-)
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