Kauri Ora Mauri Ora

Curated by Ariane Craig-Smith and Chris McBride for The Kauri Project, Kauri Ora Mauri Ora brings together work by artists from across Northland and beyond to explore the complexity of our relationship with this tree and its forest.

Inhabiting the space where concepts of art, science and cultural knowledge intersect, The Kauri Project is a curatorial endeavour dedicated to examining the relationship between people and landscape, focusing on our unique and threatened indigenous kauri forest ecology.

Working in collaboration with artists, scientists, iwi and community we seek to expand awareness of the crucial place of kauri in our biological and cultural landscape, and the threat posed to this unique species by kauri dieback disease. Since the micro-organism Phytopthera agathadicida was formally identified as the cause of kauri dieback in 2008, scientists have worked to understand the disease and establish how best to protect kauri from this deadly threat.

A healthy kauri forest is a wealth of diverse life, a delicate ecological network of interdependence, within which the kauri tree is a keystone species. Able to grow to ancient age and massive scale, kauri have the ability to modify the land on which they live. Around and on the kauri a host of other species live and thrive, some of them only found in this association. Late to this relationship, people have also flourished in Aotearoa/New Zealand, briefly prospering from our relationship with kauri, though at a cost to our landscape which we seek now to redress. Once a powerful presence across Northern Aotearoa, from Waikato to Cape Reinga, kauri forest now exists in scattered fragments and as a legend in the imaginations of the people. Nowhere is this history more potent than in Northland where a handful of ancient giants still stand and young kauri strive for survival, while the ghost of their kin haunt the landscape.

Kauri ki uta, Kauri ki tai – May Kauri once again flourish from hilltop to the sea.