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Lookout for 2000, McGregor


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I stayed in the Waipoua Forest for two weeks in January, 1997. When people asked me why I came, I replied, "To stay in the ancient forest." When they wondered why come here when I could go see the big old trees, the redwoods in forests in my state of California in the USA, I replied, "I wanted to be close to forests that have grown in isolation as remnants of the single continent Pangaea and Gondwanaland before it separated." However, some comments from McGregor's book (see the entry under Books) provide far more explicit and informative answers. McGregor is credited with being a major force in the creation of what came to be known as the Waipoua Forest. He called it a primeval sanctuary.

In the Foreword, page 4, he explains,

"The only remaining kauri forest which retains any appreciable semblance of its former virgin condiion and which is still sufficiently extensive to give reasonable promise of permanent survival is that within the Waipoua State Forest Reserve in the Hokianga County of North Auckland."
In the introductory chapter, "The National Park Project," page 10, he says:

"Does it not sting our pride that in years to come Waipoua also shall be written down among those treasures of the earth that have perished at the hands of a ruthless commercialism? Shall we abandon it to its trinity of deadly foes, Apathy, Stupidity and Greed?"
Page 12 continues:

"The full glory of the forested landscape is to be discovered only from vantage points to the south along the crests of the heath-covered ridges that slope gently downward into the valley of the Waipoua Stream. That rounded knoll a mile or so south of the river upon which the fire look-out station has been built, affords perhaps the most comprehensive view. From this elevation, one thousand feet or so above sea level, the whole of the south-eastern and middle reaches of the forest are spread out in broad panorama. As the eye sweeps northward over an unbroken sea of forest verdure that melts gradually into the soft blue haze of the distance, it is possible to forget for a time the 'improvements' of civilisation that lie in the settled country behind and to reconstruct in imagination the tumbled wilderness of the primeval forest as it confronted the pioneers.''
The next chapter, "The Waipoua Forest Reserve," describes the area in detail. On page 15 is an answer to the question, "why not have the exotic pines?"

"Generally inappropriate to introduce alien vegetation. Aggressive species, like some of the pines, tend to infiltrate the natural vegetation. ... the destruction, or even the modification would be a distinct calamity. ... introduces a fire hazard."
Page 20 in "The Forest Primeval" chapter,

"... mixed, evergreen rain-forest. Trees of a dozen species thrust their branches into each other, until it is a puzzle to tell which foliage belongs to this stem, and which to that, and flax-like arboreal colonists fill up forks and dress bole and limbs fantastically. Adventurous vines ramble through the interspaces, linking trunk to trunk, and complicating the fine confusion. All around is a multitudinous, incessant struggle for life..."
Page 44, the chapter on the life history of the forest is an adventure story on a grand time scale.

The next chapter, "Enduring grandueur or ignoble ruin," describes what was happening to the forest in his day, before it became a national park.

Page 75, in his summary of reasons for preservation,

"The kauri is allied to a group of coniferous trees much more characteristic of the forest of the relatively remote past than of those that exist today..."Like that unique animal, the Tuatara lizard, which has persisted in the remoteness of these islands thoughout geological ages, this relic of the flora of a forgotten world also merits the most absolute protection." "...the kauri forest is strikingly different both in its composition and in its character from all other types of New Zealand rain-forest. The Waipoua Forest is in very truth a unique fragment of a unique fragment of extremely ancient vegetation."
Page 78, in conclusion,

"It must, therefore, be clearly realised that we of this generation are, after all, merely trustees for the great natural treasure that we possess in the Waipoua Forest, trustees not only for our own posterity, but also for the civilised world at large."
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Last Modified: 12/31/98 1998