Story: Bush trams and other log transport

Dragging timber

Dragging timber

This sketch of Māori hauling a log through the bush, probably mid-19th century, appeared in Poenamo: sketches of the early days of New Zealand (1881), the autobiography of Auckland merchant John Logan Campbell. On many occasions Māori eased such tasks with hauling chants. On this occasion, as Campbell recalls, at the head of the log was the senior chief of the tribe. Brandishing a taiaha (club), he chanted ever louder, stamped with his feet, and finally sprang in the air and brought the taiaha down as if smiting an enemy. As he did so, the 80 haulers yelled one word in chorus and simultaneously pulled the log. The massive log, over a metre in diameter and 25 metres in length, moved forward. Then the performance was repeated until they had pulled the log up a slope and down to the sea. At the end of the day the tribe feasted to celebrate the last log being dragged to the water’s edge.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: B-K 740-79

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Paul Mahoney, 'Bush trams and other log transport - Skidding and hauling', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/artwork/12221/dragging-timber (accessed 5 June 2020)

Story by Paul Mahoney, published 24 Sep 2007