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Salvaged Logs “Abandoned Treasures”

To salvage:  To save, eg something from a situation in which other things have already been damaged, destroyed or lost.

The Islands of New Zealand were almost entirely bush clad before Humans first arrived around 1200AD.  Fires and later farming and timber milling devoured millions of acres of “virgin bush.”

After wholesale clear felling of the remnants, industrial scale forestry plantings of exotic Pinus Radiata replaced much of these destroyed native forests.  A revival of interest in using NZ Native timbers has led to small-scale timber millers recovering the discarded logs revealed after the harvest of mature Pine plantations.  We feel honoured to give a new life to these remnants of majestic old trees.

Fortunately, one of the properties of our native “Podocarp” species, is their resistance to rot and insect attack.  The partially burnt and buried trunks can be sawn to recover the sound heart wood.

All the wood we use has been ethically sourced from around New Zealand, salvaged from creeks, river beds, beaches, old timber mills and logging sites, arborists, neighbouring farms and even firewood stacks.

Volcanic Relic Logs “Remnants of the Cataclysm”

These remnants of ancient trees have so much natural history in them. They are burnt, drowned, and buried treasures.  Straddling the Pacific “Rim of Fire”, New Zealand has a violent Volcanic history.  In the past 5,000 years, the Lake Taupo Caldera in the central North Island, has produced two of the most productive and violent eruptions recorded world-wide.  Relic logs from these events, have been salvaged from beneath river beds in the central North Island.

During approved shingle mining operations, logs were found lying like giant “pick-up sticks” among the river gravels and volcanic silt, 10 to 20 feet below the modern day river bed.   Carbon 14 dating by the University of Waikato identified the timbers as being either 2,000 or 4,000 years old, in relation to how deep they were buried.  These dates coincide with the two most recent eruption events at the Taupo Caldera, 1800 BC and 256 AD.  The evidence left by these cataclysmic events is found in ash deposits covering the North Island and stretching out to sea for hundreds of kilometres.

The dense forests around Taupo were devastated by incandescent surges, known as “Pyroclastic Flows”, containing toxic gases, ash, and pumice, at extreme temperatures estimated at 600 to 900 degrees C .  Scientists believe that in the first violent minutes of the last eruption one cubic kilometre of timber was vaporised.  Volcanic Relic logs when recovered from the flood plains and river beds of the central North Island are often charred on the outside.

The standing trees that survived the blast waves of the eruptions, and the pulses of airborne and other ejecta, would have likely been killed by the highly acidic ashfall and resulting defoliation.  Eruptions of this scale are followed by torrential rains, causing floods and lahars, a violent type of mudflow composed of a slurry of pyroclastic material, rocky debris and water.  Continuing torrential rainfall and erosion of steep slopes swept the dead trees into the river valleys, where they were recovered and milled under licence, thousands of years later.

River Logs “Murky waters yield wonderful wood” (treasures).

These “River” logs are recovered from estuarine creeks, and river beds where they have lain undisturbed for many years (sometimes thousands of years).  The effects of time, water, and marinating in mineral laden mud or volcanic debris, often results in unique changes in colour, enhancing the timber’s natural beauty.

A recent example was Matai logs found by the mouth of the Haast River in Westland. The timber had changed in colour to almost black, with flashes of deep gold, and was carbon dated to be 3,300yrs old.

In flooding the logs had been washed out from an eroded bank on a bend in the river.  On top of that bank there is a new Rimu forest growing, estimated to be 300 years old.

In the early days of NZ native logging, not all trees felled made it to the timber mill. Many logs broke out of the rafts while en route and sank, in waterways throughout the North Island.   Determined salvers in more recent times have recovered some of these log treasures.  We source logs from all over the country as they come available, often in very limited supply.

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