2 Jan 2012

Call for Government to protect carved trees

8:15 am on 2 January 2012

An archaeologist warns the world will lose a unique piece of history if the New Zealand Government ignores its imminent demise.

Ian Barber from Otago University has been leading a project to preserve about 200 Chatham Islands Kopi - or Karaka - trees carved by Moriori up to 350 years ago.

Dr Barber says the carvings - of birds, human-like figures and geometric designs - are one of a kind, but critically endangered. The trees are wind sensitive and the loss of forestry has left them exposed.

He says originally, there may have been well over 1000 carvings and if nothing is done to preserve the trees they will be gone within two decades.