Collection: Donnelly's Crossing Collection

In 1839, European’s settled in the area and begun to mill the New Zealand native tree Kauri, as it was in high demand as a construction timber. By the 1860’s Kaipara Harbour was the biggest timber exporting port in the country. The towns of Dargaville and Helensville grew with the timber industry, with ships up to 3000 tons being loaded and heading out through the Harbour entrance to other ports in New Zealand and Australia.

Donnelly's Crossing, at the base of the Waipoua forest, grew from the emerging forestry industry that was developing to harvest the giant Kauri trees in the area. While not initially at an important area for milling due to its distance to the Kaipara Harbour, as Kauri harvesting decimated the forests to the south, eyes continued to be drawn evermore towards the north.

Today the surviving Kauri forests are probably about 1% of the vast forests that once grew in Northland. The Waipoua forest was probably protected initially by its inaccessibility. The rivers in that area were not large enough to transport logs to the mills.

The wood that I am using in the Donnelly's Crossing series is Kauri that was harvested in the area in 1993. It comes from the stump that was left behind when the tree was initially felled (a common practice at the time). The date of the initial tree being felled is unknown however, best estimates of late 1800s have been offered, based on known activity in the area.

Given that it comes from the stump, it has a complex grain structure, often times at contrasting angles, which demands attention and care. The extra effort, however, is richly rewarded in the final product as sunlight seems to almost bounce across the face of the wood, reflecting and bringing to life, the history of the tree.