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Tāne Mahuta, the New Zealand sacred kauri tree that’ll make you weep

It is the largest kauri tree in the world and being up close to ‘the lord of the forest’, a sacred Maori site, is a powerful experience

Just a short walk down a wooded gangway into the rainforest of Waipoua, near Dargaville on New Zealand’s north island, is a living giant. Its name is Tāne Mahuta and it’s a kauri tree – one of the largest types (by girth rather than height) in the world. Tāne is named after the Maori forest god and, in the myth, is the fruit of the primordial parents: his growth having broken apart the embrace of Ranginui, the “sky father” and Papatūānuku, the “Earth mother,” allowing the space and light for life to flourish.

Walk beneath Tāne, which is 51.5 metres tall and has a trunk girth of 18.8 metres (a challenge for the most ardent tree-hugger), and you can’t help but feel moved – and incredibly small. It isn’t just physical majesty that brings tourists flocking to Waipoua to visit “the lord of the forest,” it is the atmosphere around the tree.

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