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Murray’s Macrocarpa Musings

Just a quick introduction......

Getting into sawmilling in 1993 I saw the market for a well graded consistent supply of macrocarpa building grade timbers. The main source for these timbers had always been small portable sawmills. These operators had limited ability in sourcing quality log supplies, therefore were inconsistent in supply times and grade quality. Setting out right from the start to overcome the negative attitude, particularly from merchants, but also from mainstream builders to the cypress species, was found to be a real challenge. 

Today MacDirect is well known throughout NZ as a leading building grade supplier of cypress. Known in NZ as lusitanica and macrocarpa cuppressus, their botanical names. Native to California and Mexico they're known as Monterey Cypress and Mexican Cypress (or mexican white cedar).  These were first brought to NZ and plantation planted in the 1800s it soon became a popular shelter belt tree on farms. 

Cypress has always been seen as a valuable construction timber as well as for its decorative appeal in uses as diverse as pergolas to coffins. 

There is “New World” cypress, basically native to America. Classed as moderately durable (heart similar to H3.1 treated pine)  This is NZ’s cypress.  Then“Old world” or Mediterranean cypress which is very durable. St Peters gates in Vatican were 1000 years old today, built from cypress. 

Tree scientists have always seen the value of cypress and in the days of government Forest Service Department which was disbanded in mid 90s, they arranged planting in several of their pine plantations, large areas of cypresses.  Many of these matured and were harvested over the last 20 years. MacDirect was fortunate to be in a position with a growing market to acquire most of these.  

Today we rely more on independent farm foresters. We buy logs only from plantation purpose grown trees ideally 30-35 years old but some only 25years.  Although cypress is very resistant to bug attack when sawn, it does suffer insect attack when growing as a tree. This is not normally a problem in plantations the biggest issue being  “canker” a fungal disease.  Where present, tree damage spreads it. (deer, Kaka bird, thinning etc) 

Today MacDirect has built a reputation with log suppliers so that we have a foreseeable supply to meet our needs for approximately 10+ years. This is a big part of us being able to guarantee cypress supply to our customers. We are proud to be able to supply a total natural product, an exotic that is grown and manufactured in NZ. With zero building site waste. Manufacturing waste of sawdust, shavings, firewood, chip, all have a ready market locally. 

Cypress (macrocarpa) is often featured in “home of the year” as well as used by those who want the “natural look” as a point of difference. MacDirect aims to be the supplier of choice to satisfied customers throughout  NZ and continue to encourage and support its use in homes throughout the industry.

Have a good week. - Murray 

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