As part of an International venture between New Zealand and Finland, a local craftsman in Finland, will construct the world's first accordions made from the prized native New Zealand 'Kauri' tree.

The dream of Kevin Friedrich, born in Dargaville, New Zealand (near where the giant Kauri trees grow), is a regular visitor to Ikaalinen, Finland, the home to a rare accordion making school, where trainees are taught the art of constructing accordions in the traditional Finnish folk style. The only school of its kind in Finland, the program is headed by master craftsman Jarkko Helin. Based in Tampere, Finland, Jarkko makes approximately 10 - 15 instruments per year, all custom designed for the artists, and will be in charge of making the Kauri Accordions for this special project.

Now that the Kauri wood is in place, it is estimated that the instruments will be ready in the first part of 2012. Here you will find some preliminary information about this exciting project thus far.

It is planned that the Finnish Kauri Instrument will be premiered at the 40th Anniversary Sata-Häme Soi Festival l to be held in the summer of 2012.
Kauri at a Glance
The Kauri tree, Agathis australis, is New Zealand's largest and most famous native tree.

Kauri were prolific in the past
Kauri are among the world's mightiest trees, growing to more than 50 metres tall, with trunk girths of up to 16 metres and living for more than 2000 years. Kauri forests once covered 1.2 million of the Northland area of New Zealand, and were common when the first people arrived in New Zealand some 1000 years ago.

Past uses of Kauri
The Maori people used kauri timber for boat building, carving and building houses. The gum was used as a fire starter and for chewing (after it had been soaked in water and mixed with the milk of the Puha plant).

Kauri Forest
The arrival of European settlers in the 17-1800's saw the decimation of these magnificent forests. Sailors quickly realised the trunks of young kauri were ideal for ships' masts and spars, and the settlers who followed felled the mature trees to yield huge quantities of timber of unsurpassed quality for building.
The gum too, became essential in the manufacture of varnishes and other resin-based products. The gum was obtained through digging, fossicking in treetops, or more drastically, by bleeding live trees. More forest was cleared as demand for farmland and timber increased in the early and mid 20th century.

Saved from destruction
The Waipoua forest near Dargaville in Northland were at first saved from destruction by
their remoteness. The land was purchased by the Crown in 1876, but for decades there was debate over what should be done with the forest. Public pressure for total protection increased after the turn of the century and now Kauri trees are a protected speices.

The Largest Kauri Tree
The most famous and largest Kauri tree is Tane Mahuta, which is Maori for "Lord of the Forest." Located in the Waipoua Forest near Dargaville, Tane Mahuta is the largest kauri tree on record, with a 2001 measurement of 148 feet in height and a crown width of 114 feet.

The Oldest Kauri Tree
The oldest living kauri tree is located in the Waipoua Forest and is called Te Matua Ngahere, or "Father of the Forest." The tree is about 3,000 years old.

Since they are protected by law, most of the Kauri timber used today is found buried under ancient swamps and dates back tens of thousands of years. It is not uncommon to find 30-50,000 year old Kauri logs underground, and they serve as a reminder of the fast tracts of rainforest which once blanketed the North. Some swamp Kauri of this vintage has been brought to the surface with its leaves and cones still green, supporting the theory that these great forests were sheared off rapidly at ground level by advancing ice sheets. Other Kauri is recycled from houses, buildings and furniture that were constructed from Kauri around the turn of last century.
Working in collaboration with the Accordion Making Department of the Handi-Craft School in Ikaalinen, some of this precious wood was recently shipped to Finland, the instruments made from this ancient timber will be the first accordions ever made from Kauri.

Above left: Dargaville builder Arthur Miach who donated the precious wood
Above right: Gordon Morfett who helped prepare the wood for shipping to Finland
the Kauri arriving in snowy and cold Ikaalinen, Finland
pictured is Kimmo Mattila, President of the Finnish Accordion Association
After about 6 weeks, the wood arrived from New Zealand via Hamburg, Germany before reaching Finland
Kimmo Mattila inspecting the wood as it is unpacked in Ikaalinen
Kevin Friedrich presenting a poster of the oldest living Kauri Tree 'Te Matua Ngahere' (Father of the Forest) to Jarkko Helin.
The poster shows a timeline of world history during this trees amazing 3,000 year lifespan thus far.
Jarrko is the craftsman who will build the instruments, the world's first Kauri accordions
During the Festival, Jarrko had some of the Kauri wood on display in the Accordion Fair Trade Show. The wood created much interest among visitors and fellow exhibitors, who marveled at its beautiful blond color and texture. Kevin is pictured with a Finnish Folk Instrument similar to how the Kauri accordions will look once finished.
Above left: An instrument similar in design to the Kauri Accordions
Above right: Jarkko demonstrating the Finnish Folk Accordion

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