Giving a voice to dying Kauri

Publish Date : 24 Mar 2017
Kauri dieback 4

Five musicians from the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra played on a unique stage recently, in the middle of the Waitakere Ranges. It was all for a good cause too – raising awareness about kauri dieback disease.

The soil-borne disease is widespread in the ranges, with recent survey results revealing the number of infected trees having more than doubled in the last five years, and there is no cure.

For the musical piece five cameras on state of the art rigs scanned the visible symptoms of the disease on a sick tree. Using the software MAX for Live the imagery was then enhanced, manipulated and turned into musical notes by digital audio technician Tom Cosm, and a classical musical score produced that the musicians could understand and play.

The haunting piece of music inspired by the dying giant can be heard  at A Kauri Cries.

“It was a wonderful but strange experience watching a piece of music being played around a large, dying kauri tree," says Dr Nick Waipara, Principal Advisor, Auckland Council Biosecurity.

"The trees have been suffering in silence until now, and this project has given them a voice to communicate the pain and peril that they’re in,” 

“It’s also a great opportunity for us to raise awareness in a very unique way, which is more important than ever. Nearly 20 per cent of kauri in the Waitakere Ranges are now infected, making the ranges are the most heavily diseased area in New Zealand. Help in spreading the word to a wide audience is very welcome,” says Nick.

“We had a very stringent biosecurity plan in place for the musicians and crew, as they were entering a disease zone. They were required to clean in, and clean out – including footwear and equipment like camera tripods,” says Lee Hill, Senior Biosecurity Advisor for Kauri Dieback Disease, who was on site with the musicians and producers from creative agency Ogilvy.

“This is also the message that we want to spread to everyone visiting the forest – cleanliness is the key to protect and save our kauri. Always clean your shoes and equipment before and after visiting kauri forest, stay on marked tracks and stay off closed tracks,” says Lee.

Find out more about kauri dieback disease

See a video of the piece 

The musical piece was also turned into a video, which will feature as the trailer for the Silo Cinema screening of Amy at 9pm at Silo Park on Friday 24 March.

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