The Woods

wood flutes native american style

Wood flutes have different qualities and characteristics that are directly related to the type of wood used for the flute.

Wood flutes themselves are remarkable, I find myself mesmerized by the fantastic grain features of Western Red Cedar, and also by its fragrance; Black Maire is smooth to touch with a leathery smell; Swamp Kauri shows off its age by entrancing one with its deep dark colour and scintillating grain … there are so many remarkable woods!

Creating a positive future means taking care of the environment in the present. I endeavor to use woods that are plantation grown or from the wood-stacks of retired wood-workers. Choosing how to finish a flute also has an environmental footprint. All Southern Cross Flutes are finished with a completely natural and chemical-free wood oil, made from plant oils and tree resins, by a local New Zealand company. This blend of ingredients protects and nourishes the flute, as well as showcasing the unique grain of the wood. The final touch is a good ol’ buff with Carnauba wax, which helps to wick away moisture from the air channel while creating a durable and lustrous finish.

 

Ancient Kauri

ancient kauri wood

As a flute wood, Ancient Kauri has a voice that is rich and sweet, giving it great acoustical properties for the lower as well as the higher pitched notes. Typically Ancient Kauri is darker brown in colour with a depth of grain that holds shimmering highlights within. This wood has been recovered from swamps in the far north of New Zealand/Aotearoa, where it’s been naturally preserved for over 45,000 years! All Ancient Kauri wood used is certified and carbon-dated, and your flute will include a certificate of authenticity.

Black Maire

Black Maire, being a very hard wood, creates a song that is bright and clear, responsive and crisp. The durability of this hardwood also provides exceptional protection against scratches and dents.  The heavier weight of the wood gives the flute great balance in the hand of the player. One special quality of Black Maire is its natural aroma, akin to beeswax, making the flute smell great under the nose. The wood is typically creamy in colour with a dark wavy grain pattern. The largest stands of Black Maire trees are now found around Taupo and the King Country.

Black Walnut

Black Walnut, as a flute-wood, has a voice that is bright, clear, and strong, due to the hardness of the wood. The wood colour is typically a swirling combination of browns and blacks. This is highly figured wood, with knot inclusions and other wild grain patterns. Black Walnut is native to America and is grown in New Zealand. The wood we use is hand selected and milled by a friend in Matamata, who reserves a special selection for Southern Cross Flutes.

Heart Rimu

Rimu, as a flute wood, is hard and dense, providing a bright tone and clear sound. It has patterns of yellow, brown and green through it, making it one of the most decorative woods in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Rimu grows throughout the country; the largest concentration of trees is now found on the West Coast of the South Island. All Heart Rimu wood used in these flutes is recycled/upcycled.

Jarrah

Jarrah wood for flutes

Jarrah, once known as Swan River Mahogany, is from the Eucalypt species and most commonly found in South West Australia. This wood is dark red, and is generally very hard, and produces a bright clear tone.

Kahikatea

Kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides) is the New Zealand “white pine” and is the tallest tree in our native bush. It is a member of the Podocarpacae family characterised by their smooth bark which prevents creepers attaching and eventually smothering the tree. It is regularly seen in developed farm land where clumps of trees have been left for shade. As a flute wood, Kahikatea has a straight tight grain that projects a warm full sound, offering great resonance, lightweight and balance, as well as moisture reduction properties.

Matai

Matai (Prumnopitys taxifolia) is a robust forest tree that grows up to 25m high with a trunk diameter of up to 1.3m. It is found throughout New Zealand and was called “black pine” by early European settlers. As a flute wood, Matai is produces a bright clear tone, offering volume and richness. It’s a heavier wood and therefore feels sold in the hands, which is often a preferable quality. Matai was used extensively for floor boards in houses and village halls where it stood the test of time and stiletto heels! It was easy to maintain and refurbish with a good polish.

Pohutukawa

The pohutukawa is one of twelve Metrosideros species endemic to New Zealand. Renowned for its vibrant colour and its ability to survive even perched on rocky, precarious cliffs, it has found an important place in New Zealand culture for its strength and beauty and is regarded as a chiefly tree (rākau rangatira) by Māori. The blossom of the tree is called kahika.

Puriri

Puriri (Vitex lucens) is a beautiful spreading tree of New Zealand’s native bush and is found in coastal and lowland forests in the Northern half of the North Island. It’s a member of theVerbenaceae family so is related to teak. It can grow up to 20m high with a trunk of 1.5m encased in thick bark. As a flute wood, Puriri creates a very bright and clear tone, it’s vibrant and resonant and firm in the hand.

The wood was commonly used by early settlers for post and rail fencing as they lasted for ever. The timber was worked when green as it is almost impossible to knock staples into it when dry.Special shorter legged staples were used.

Purple Heart

purpleheart wood

Purple Heart, native to tropical regions of Central and South America, where they grow in tropical rain forests. Purple Heart is an extremely dense and water resistant wood, and while I don’t use it purely as a flute wood, I tend to incorporate it decoratively.

Red Beech

Red Beech Temple Drone Flute

Southern beech is a highly decorative hardwood with a natural sheen and lustre. This Southern Beech has a very resonance voice and a lovely medium weight.

Rewarewa

Rewarewa wood for flutes

Rewarewa, not only the name for a delectable N.Z honey, but also a lowland flute wood with the look of a savannah wild cat. As a flute wood, it is hard and smooth, providing a bright and full sound.

Western Red Cedar

Western Red Cedar for flutes

Western Red Cedar is the quintessential Native American flute wood. Very light to hold, this flute-wood produces a classic warm, rich and resonant tone. Being a softwood, it is very absorbent which helps in reducing moisture buildup within the flute while playing. It is typically a light brown colour with a sweet woody aroma under the nose. Traditionally known as the “long life maker” or “tree of life”, Western Red Cedar is native to the American Pacific North West, and to this day has extensive applications among First Nation peoples.