John Freeman - Kauri Art > About > Ancient NZ Kauri

Ancient NZ Kauri

The oldest workable wood in the world

Ancient Kauri wood
New Zealand’s largest native tree, the Kauri, is precious to New Zealanders. It is a gift of nature, that no kauri need ever be felled for the sculptures John Freeman creates.

All his Kauri works are made from ancient kauri root systems that have been buried for thousands of years. Preserved in peat swamplands, John has rescued them and sculpted them into beautiful art, vessels and furniture.

All his works have taken not just years of his time – but years of nature’s time in the making. All the Kauri he has excavated near Auckland is estimated to be between 1200 to 32,000 years old.

It is a labour of love.

After the root system is excavated, it is cleaned, cut to size, dried as slabs or blocks and stored.

From here, it is wood turned and sculpted into small and vast works including bowls, thrones, discs, tea tables, banquet tables, boardroom tables, art forms and wall and large sculpture. Once a piece is worked it is often left to dry for many years before polishing.

John uses French polish to highlight the natural grains. Kauri grain has  "chatoyancy", a three dimensional effect similar to tiger eye stone.

Kauri wood grain is unique.  The light dances off it.

John loves the unique qualities of this ancient wood and has commented that when he works with it, he still sees the light dancing off it. He has found wood so well preserved, that when discovered, the cones and leaves were intact and still green - frozen in time!

The awesome presence of history is in every work. Imagine this: by reading the growth rings, you can appreciate that it takes hundreds of years to grow the material that goes into a bowl or sculpture. It is even more astonishing to realize that when you touch these works - you are connecting with the presence of nature from very ancient times.

One of John’s most impressive sculptures "Seat of our Ancestors", is now ready for sale. It took 760 yrs to grow the root system from which it was carved, took around 32,000 years to be discovered by John, and then 15 years to complete.

To view other current works visit John’s Home Studio Gallery.

Tane Mahuta – at around 2000 years old is the oldest standing Kauri Tree in New Zealand today. It stands 52m tall and 13m wide, so you can imagine the enormity and grace of the ancient forests that grew in the North Island so many years ago.

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KauriART Home Studio

Experience the wonder of a natural kauri rainforest. Walk through ancient root systems. Enjoy woodturning, small & large works by local sculptor John Freeman.


Stone Carving Workshops

Enjoy a 3 hour private lesson with a NZ sculptor. Take your masterpiece with you or arrange for it be couriered home.


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