Ancient swamp kauri exported to China to meet demand.
Thousands of tonnes of kauri are being hauled off to China, firing concerns New Zealand is being stripped of a national treasure.
The “black gold rush” – as it is known in Northland – is trying to meet Chinese demand for the ancient wood.
Under the Forests Act, it is illegal to export any swamp kauri unless it is a finished product or a personal effect, or it is from stump or root material (either whole or sawn) sourced from non-indigenous forest land.
A Ministry for Primary Industries spokeswoman said export approval had been declined for consignments which failed to comply but no one had yet been prosecuted for criminal breaches of the provisions.
Some Northlanders see it as the loss of a national treasure.