Come summer, visitors to Warkworth’s Kauri Parry Park can enjoy a picnic at a newly installed table that commemorates the rescue of centuries-old kauri trees.
The massive McKinney and Simpson trees at the park, which are estimated to be 800 and 600 years old respectively, were due to be chopped down to make a boat before The Kauri and Native Bushmen’s Association intervened 50 years ago.
Before the trees and land they stood on could be sold into private hands, they first had to be offered for purchase as a public amenity.
The bushmen’s association successfully organised a major fundraising campaign to secure the land and preserve the trees. They gifted them to the people of Warkworth on 24 April 1967.
The current president of the association, Ray Jensen, admits it is rather ironic that what was essentially a social club for loggers, ended up becoming crucial to saving the trees.
“They were quite adamant those two trees must be preserved,” he says.
Ray had the idea to instal the picnic table to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the gifting of the trees to Warkworth and honour the old bushmen who made it possible. The table was made by fellow association member Merv Bayer.
Today, The Kauri and Native Bushmen’s Association continues to make enhancements to the park, building and maintaining walkways, planting new trees, clearing weeds and eliminating rats and possums.