An exquisite sight, our kauri gum shines with the light of the thousands of years it has taken to form. The gum is created when resin (sap) from the trees leaks out through cracks in the bark. Lumps can form over many hundreds of years of a kauri tree’s life, and once hardened and eventually fossilizing, become the gum we see today.
Kauri gum is Aotearoa New Zealand’s version of amber, although typically not as old as true amber. Maori used gum (kāpia) burnt and mixed with fat as a pigment for moko tattooing, as a fire starter, and even chewed it like chewing gum.
The pieces on display come from a number of collections gathered by local residents, including the Lords, Rintouls, Ross Family, Fells and others. They have been cleaned and polished, and in some cases carved and turned into a range of sculptures and jewelry.
While at the Museum you may be able to see gum polishing in action (phone first or check on arrival to see if our polisher is in) and even polish your own piece to take home. Finished gum and jewelry pieces are also available to purchase at the Museum Shop.