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Bushman’s impressive shed

Nick Ledgard, New Zealand Tree Grower August 2015.

I had the Kauri Museum or Trounson Park in my sights for the last conference day, but the need to be back in Whangarei for a mid-day flight required taking the shorter Bushman’s Shed option. As stated later by fellow traveller, Mike Smith, what an excellent choice that turned out to be.

The first sense of ‘here is something interesting’ came as we drove down Paul and Christine Leonard’s rock-lined drive towards an impressive log house alongside which were piles of large redwood and totara logs waiting to be milled. Paul started work in the timber industry at the age of 18 as a self-taught tree feller and miller on his grandfather’s dairy farm in nearby Matarau. It was then that he started milling large trees and collecting old chainsaws, bushman’s tools and memorabilia, now displayed in a large shed.

We started our visit admiring the unique, traditionally scribed and fitted log house. It is mostly constructed from large totara stems which Paul felled and prepared himself. It is a home which radiates character both outside and within. As Paul was explaining the building process, eyes were wandering everywhere, taking in the masses of interesting features.

From the house we walked through the log yard to his two-story shed, inside which morning tea was served on arguably New Zealand’s largest wooden table − a 7 metre by 1.6 metre slab 15 cm thick of solid polished kauri.

Paul works mainly in native timbers and makes table tops and beams from high value timbers such as kauri, rimu and totara. The kauri table was made from the third log of a huge tree recently felled in a nearby forest being managed on an MPI-approved Sustainable Forest Management Plan. You could have spent the rest of the day wandering around the shed absorbing the displays of bushman’s tools, photographs and stories. Then, of course, there was Paul’s collection of old chainsaws, sourced from all over the country. But that was just part of what makes the Bushman’s Shed well worth a visit, certainly a venue to put on your itinerary for your next visit to Northland.

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