Thanks to Pete McKenzie for this story, How Maori Stepped In to Save a Towering Tree Crucial to Their Identity, in the New York Times:
Tāne Mahuta, an ancient tree named after the god of forests in Māori mythology, is threatened by the slow creep of an incurable disease.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — In an ancient grove in northern New Zealand, the mighty conifer known as Tāne Mahuta, lord of the forest, is threatened by the encroachment of a deadly enemy.
It is the largest kauri tree known to be living: 177 feet tall, 53 feet in circumference. Kauri, native to New Zealand, are among the world’s longest-living trees, and Tāne Mahuta has been growing in Waipoua Forest for about 2,000 years — longer than New Zealand has been inhabited by humans. It is named after the god of forests in Māori mythology, who is said to have pushed apart the sky father and the earth mother to create space for life to thrive.
But Tāne Mahuta stands just 200 feet from another kauri whose roots are infected with an incurable disease. Kauri dieback, caused by a microscopic, fungus-like organism, has reached pandemic proportions and driven an already threatened species closer to extinction. Nearby, five other kauri are also infected.
Given the age and size of kauri, many Māori view them as distant ancestors. Tāne Mahuta is particularly special to some, for the connection to the Māori creation story. “The threat of kauri dieback to the species is a threat to Māori identity itself,” said Taoho Patuawa, chief science officer for the local Māori tribe, Te Roroa…
Read the whole story here.