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Kauri Gum HC77

Pieces of kauri gum, polished and unpolished, with rough uneven surfaces.
Kauri gum can be anywhere from hundreds of years old, to hundreds of thousands of years old.

Kauri gum forms from resin in the bark of the kauri tree. The gum is generally found in the upper part of the North Island. Gum was used by Māori for chewing, starting fires and tā moko (traditional tatooing). By the 1890’s twenty thousand people were involved in the gum industry, digging gum from the gumfields mainly in Northland but also other parts of Aotearoa New Zealand. Gum digging was extremely hard work. 

Between 1850 and 1950,” writes kauri historian Bruce Hayward, “450,000 tons of kauri gum, worth £25 million, were exported, and for 50 years prior to 1900, gum was Auckland Province’s most valuable export, ahead of gold, wool and kauri timber.”

Kauri gum was a high quality product. It was used to make varnish and enamel paints and to make lacquer for musical instruments and furniture. Lower quality kauri gum was used for lino flooring or carved into curios.

Available with this object is a copy of the school book 'Gumdiggers of the North by Bert Hingley' 

> Read this article from National Geographic to learn more about the history of kauri gum

max dimension: 200mm
subject area: Social Science
specific themes: Industry

handling collection number: HC76

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