Kauri Timber: Lord Of The Forest

Carved from prehistoric trees that are native to New Zealand, the Kauri table is truly a one-off. Each piece has been perfectly preserved under peat swamps for over 50,000 years before its fresh timber is delicately worked by Riva 1920’s expert craftsmen to maintain the natural knots, grain and rare amber glow.

Shop Riva 1920

Prehistoric timber, sourced from the ancient swamps of New Zealand.

The largest species of tree in New Zealand, the Kauri gets its name from the native Maori, which translates as ‘Lord of the Forest’. While many forms are still growing throughout South East Asia and Australasia, what makes this wood so special is its age and the extraordinary condition of the timber.

Sourced from the Kauri swamp in the far northland of New Zealand, whole trees were buried deep in peat as a result of natural disasters some 50,000 years ago. Gargantuan in size, many even grew for up to 2,000 years prior to falling.

Since then they have remained sealed off from the air and the continents ever-changing ecosystem, perfectly preserving the wood under the swamp mud.


Recovered using the same process as ore extraction, each trunk requires a mammoth feat of engineering.

Like so many other precious raw materials, the recovery of ancient Kauri is no small task. The sheer size of the trunks and the treacherous environment within which they are located requires expert knowledge and skill to safely extract the rare timber.

Engineers rely on the same process used for ore extraction to effectively release whole trees without damaging the fresh timber. With trunks weighing anywhere between two to three hundred tons, they must first drain the swamp to gain access to the wood before cutting it into more manageable pieces.

Parts of the tree are then delicately cut into boards to obtain a constant thickness without skewing the enormous trunks. To make matters more complex, each of these processes can only be carried out during the dry season with the rainy winters and swampy terrain making conditions too hostile.

Once extracted, a sample of each tree is sent to the University of Auckland where it is carbon dated to between 35 to 50 thousand years old.


As workable as a fresh timber, Kauri is crafted by the artisans of Riva 1920.


Untouched by decay or fossilisation, ancient Kauri is as fresh as the day it naturally fell thousands of years ago. This makes it as workable as newly cut wood and allows Riva 1920’s artisan craftsmen to fully exploit its beautiful timber.

Giving the table a golden glow, each of the trunks are cut to reveal not only the beautiful grain of the wood but also the amber resin that has collected within the tree’s burls. This is complemented by a transparent filling that helps blend any missing pieces.

Having fallen as a result of huge cataclysms, each Kauri table is ecological and a one-off piece as displayed by its unfinished knots and sides.

The Kauri is a museum worthy treasure that's made for the modern home. If you want to bring a piece of history to your space, contact one of our design advisor's today at advice@heals.co.uk