Travel gifts made of rimu wood combine the resources of a tree endemic to New Zealand with a unique blend of craft. That is based on a rich Maori tradition and the input of people living in New Zealand today.
Rimu trees as they are named in Maori language are ancient conifers. The English word interpretation is red pine, a relation that leads to confusion. Rimu is a dioecious podocarps with male and female trees. Instead of having needles and wooden cones they flower and grow fruits. This characteristic led, the Maori people, to grow them in groups of at least three.
Undisturbed they reach an age of 600 to 1000 years. Their height is dependent on age. In New Zealand’s native forest they tower above the main canopy in a height of 20 to 35 metres. Their straight trunk is surrounded by a dark flaking bark and has a diameter of up to 1.5 metre and more. The tree occurs from the far north of the North Island to the far south on Stewart Island.
Rimu milling took place when the kauri tree, after excessive timber milling, was recognized of being endangered. During this time the highest ones documented reached 50 to 60 metres. Their wood found usage in building construction and high quality furniture production. The wood was and is valued for its dense heartwood, which features a reddish brown colour with darker strikes, and shows off with a great finished surface.
Today’s approach changed. Policies took reign that limit felling of rimu trees to privately managed forests.
The construction material became replaced. A faster growing species, the radiata pine, was introduced by the forest industry.
Still popular for furniture most are produced from recycled material. While the arts and crafts sector recovers resources to satisfy the market for travel gifts made of wood. Sources are previously cut and left behind stumps. Craftsmen turn beautiful rimu bowls and candle holders, as well as produce table mats, coasters and frames, photo-book covers or artistic sculptures. Many objects are of pure rimu wood or decorated with inlays of paua shells. Inlay motifs vary but often ideas are resourced in Maori symbolic.
Encountered flora on a bush walk....