Our ancient trees: Kaiaua puriri

Just north of the Miranda Shorebird Centre is the settlement of Kaiaua, home to a renowned fish and chip shop – and a puriri tree (Vitex lucens) estimated to be 800 years old. Not surprisingly, the tree is found at the end of Puriri Ave in the Domain.

The puriri tree at Kaiaua. Two human males at right for size comparison. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Unfortunately, I can’t find much more about the tree than that – a brief mention in the North Island volume of The Penguin New Zealand Travel Guide by Diana and Jeremy Pope (2009), an invaluable touring companion, seems to be all that there is (the entry is copied into the online Te Ara Encyclopaedia of New Zealand) and was what drew me there in the first place.

How do we know how old the tree is? What stories are associated with it? How’s its health holding up? An email request for information to the Hauraki District Council resulted in the Parks and Reserves manager saying: “It is not listed in our significant tree register, nor does it appear in the Franklin tree register (Franklin District Council had control of the Kaiaua area prior to Hauraki DC).”

Despite some of its trunk damaged by age, the tree continues to grow, flower and fruit. Photo: Sandra Simpson

At some point metal hawsers have been wrapped around the two main trunks in an effort to support one of them. Unfortunately, the cable is cutting into the tree. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Read more about puriri in general at the excellent website, The Meaning of Trees.