Story: Kauri gum and gum digging

Pit digging, Northland, 1911

Pit digging, Northland, 1911

Gum diggers often worked on the drier hills in winter and headed for the swamps in summer. Teams would locate the gum with very long spears. Here they are keeping the pit relatively dry with a simple hand-powered water pump and pipe, as men take turns to dig. This hole looks to be about 3–4 metres deep. Any deeper than this and the sides could collapse, so they were sometimes shored up with timber.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library, Northwood Collection (PA-Group-00027)
Reference: 1/1-011220; G
Photograph by Arthur James Northwood

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:

Carl Walrond, 'Kauri gum and gum digging - The gum diggers', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 30 January 2022)

Story by Carl Walrond, published 24 Sep 2007