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Kauri Ora - A celebration of New Zealanders’ love for Kauri

McCahon House Kauri Project saplings on display at Auckland Art Fair 2020. Booth design Rufus Knight, Photo Simon Wilson
Emily Karaka, Kauri Ora at McCahon House Museum 2022. Photo McCahon House
5 May 2022 to 8 May 2022
5-8 May, open daily from 10 am - 4 pm
Priceless art history living on through biosecurity triumph
Event type: 
Art, Cultural, Exhibition
Free Exhibition / Kauri saplings $100 each
Allpress Studio
8 Drake Street, Freemans Bay
National, Auckland


A stunning triumph of biosecurity management, careful quarantine growing conditions and an eye on Aotearoa New Zealand’s priceless art history, comes together in ‘Kauri Ora’, a collaborative project launching 5 May 2022.

‘Kauri Ora’ is a project co-presented by McCahon House, The Kauri Project, Auckland Botanic Gardens and Auckland Council Biosecurity with the support of Te Kawerau ā Maki, and unveils 300 saplings of kauri trees, saved from the ravages of kauri die-back disease on the famous artist’s property in Titirangi.

The Titirangi grounds of McCahon House are home to mature kauri, many of which are immortalised in Colin McCahon’s art. In 2010, the kauri were tested positive for the disease and all of the trees had succumbed, with two being felled immediately. Seeds were later harvested from the 27 remaining trees by arborists from BioSense 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 for a limited fundraiser to raise funds for McCahon House and The Kauri Project. This will be used to fundraise, 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, Kaihautū, Plant and Food.

“Some of the trees the cones came from have become a lot sicker, or even died. It’s wonderful to have their history preserved in some way, and to have been able to harvest seeds from the very kauri trees McCahon painted and loved,” says Vivienne Stone, director of the McCahon House Trust, which maintains the French Bay property.

Edward Ashby of Te Kawerau ā Maki says: ”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. The rāhui currently in place over the ngahere seeks to help achieve this. 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. 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.”

“What is really interesting here is the intersecting of the stories of the art and the artist, the science and the scientists and Matauranga and the whakapapa,” says Ariane Craig-Smith of The Kauri Project.

“We’re looking at the multiple ways artists can have a legacy - not just through their physical work. McCahon drew attention to the landscapes of Aotearoa, adding to the iconic nature of kauri and the Titirangi area through a Pākaha painting process. These landscapes are now spiritually and biologically under threat. By taking seeds from the trees that will die, by giving them the opportunity to spread and thrive throughout Aotearoa we can think about that legacy in a different way.”

“We last released a limited edition of McCahon House Kauri Project saplings in 2017 and had New Zealanders from across the country, and even expats, sending in family members to purchase saplings for their kin. It was a wonderful instance of not only preserving the provenance of these special trees, but also of families choosing to use the trees to mark a special place or moment in their collective whanau history. We make notes on the proposed sapling planting locations, and one day hope to produce a map indicating the whereabouts of all the McCahon House Kauri Project trees planted throughout Aotearoa,” says Vivienne Stone.

A five day exhibition of kauri trees painted by Colin 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 artist Emily 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.

These prints will be available online until August 2022.

The McCahon House Kauri Project saplings will be available to purchase at a free public community event ‘Kauri Ora’, 5 - 8 May, 2022 at Allpress Studio, 8 Drake street, Freemans Bay. The trees are $100 each and can be couriered elsewhere around Aotearoa New Zealand.

A limited number will be available in advance directly here:
Supporters who don’t have room for a tree in a backyard, can instead be a sponsor and a tree will be provided to a suitable home.






Written by

Brianne Kerr Publicity

7 Apr 2022

Interests: I am an enthusiastic and effective publicist who can help you grow an audience, launch an event, plan media involvement, and enhance your project. I have a working knowledge of New Zealand wide media and am actively involved in the Wellington arts community.