Story: Kauri gum and gum digging

Tools of the trade (2nd of 3)

Tools of the trade

This woman is holding the two most important gum digging tools – the spear and the Skelton spade. The spear was used to probe the ground for kauri gum, and an experienced digger could tell when they hit gum, rather than wood. The price of getting it wrong, and finding just a buried stump, might be half a day’s digging.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library, Northwood Collection (PA-Group-00027)
Reference: 1/2-042675; F
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 - Gum digging methods', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 18 January 2022)

Story by Carl Walrond, published 24 Sep 2007