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Did you know? » Seventy Mile Bush used to be the biggest podocarp forest in the North Island
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The remains of Seventy Mile Bush can be seen around Pūkaha Wildlife Centre

Photo: Road and Forty Mile Bush, near Pahiatua. Williams, Edgar Richard, 1891-1983: Negatives, lantern slides, stereographs, colour transparencies, monochrome prints, photographic ephemera. Ref: 1/1-025948-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.   /records/23064929

Seventy Mile Bush was an area of thick forest between Wairarapa and Central Hawkes Bay, which used to be the largest podocarp forest in New Zealand. Māori called the area Tapere-nui-a-Whātonga (the great food basket of Whatonga).

In the 1870s settlers from Scandinavia were brought to New Zealand to clear the bush so that roads and a railway could be built connecting Wellington and Hawkes Bay.

The immigrants arrived in the area on foot, walking south from Napier all the way to the northern edge of the forest at Norsewood, and north from Wellington over the Remutaka Hills to the southern end of the forest near Masterton.

They built their own homes in the forest and worked hard to clear the bush, opening the land for farming. Trees were felled, left to dry and then burned.

Today, the protected forest reserve around Pūkaha Wildlife Centre is all that remains of Seventy Mile bush.

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