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About Kauri Gum

Kauri Gum is the resin of New Zealand's majestic Kauri Trees, it is a sub-fossilised Copal. The Maori name is Kapia.

It begins in the ancient forests of Aotearoa (NZ) as a soft resin that oozes out of cracks and breaks in the trunk and dries in the air. On the giant trees these golden lumps can sometimes be up to several kilograms in weight. Eventually the Gum will fall to the ground where it gets buried by leaf mulch, or it might be washed into a stream and travel to a swamp or out to the ocean. Over thousands of years the Gum hardens and refines itself into a beautiful gem-like copal with a dull surface, which can be carved and polished into a unique natural treasure.

Traditionally early Maori used the soft, fresh Gum as a chewing gum that doesn't lose its warm, Kauri flavour. They also used lumps of it as a torch as it burns long and well with a pleasant scent and they used the blackened, burned gum as part of an ink for Moko (tattooing). Kauri gum was worn as a talisman or used as ornamentation and is still used for this purpose.

In the 1800's Kauri Gum was exploited and exported to England as a base for wood varnish, this led to people seeking and digging up hundreds of tons of Gum from swamps and hillsides. They were known as the Gumdiggers. The industry finished in the 1930s when cheaper synthetic alternatives became available.

New Zealand was once covered in huge ancient forest, due to major natural events and human deforestation only a small percentage of our original Kauri forest remains. Thus Kauri Gum is a very slowly renewing resource and becoming more rare and valuable.

All pieces in this shop are sustainably surface harvested, from the Coromandel Peninsula and Northland.

Kauri gum can look similar to amber but is not the same, the essential difference is age. Kauri gum takes thousands of years to form and Amber takes millions.

Care Instructions

Kauri Gum is a natural product that is sensitive to prolonged heat so avoid leaving it in the sun for long or wearing it in hot water. It can also be affected by contact with soaps or desurficants. An occasional rub with vegetable oil and a soft cloth will help it keep its shine. If it ever needs a full repolish get in touch via the contact page and I can send instructions or provide the service.

Kauri tree forest