For millennia, the Lord of the Forest has stood unyielding but as a plant-killing disease sweeps New Zealand forests a battle is on to save the nation's most iconic tree.
Standing more than 50 metres tall on a 14-metre wide trunk, Tāne Mahuta has survived for up to 2500 years in the lush Waipoua Forest in the country's north.
Said to sometimes bring visitors to tears, the native kauri tree attracts 200,000 visitors each year.
In part it's this popularity that has brought a fungal disease suffocating the country's kauri to within 60 metres of the ancient tree - and prompted debate about whether enough is being done.
A young tree close by Tāne Mahuta has been confirmed infected with "kauri dieback".
Spread by visitors' shoes and the hooves of pigs, there's no known dieback cure.
Some treatments have successfully slowed progress and scientists are hopeful about others in the works.
While the Department of Conservation (DOC) says there's no evidence Tāne Mahuta is infected (officials argue testing may risk spreading the disease), the iwi (tribe) that guards the land - Te Roroa - this month entered the forest to pray and offer blessings.
"This one tree is an iconic symbol for all of New Zealand," Te Roroa science advisor Taoho Patuawa said.
"We've been watching the steady decline of the health of that forest for a number of years without any action being taken."
He's nevertheless optimistic concerns are now being heard and the legendary tree is still safe.
"We won't see the death of Tāne Mahuta in our time. Tāne Mahuta has been there for 2000-plus years. This is just a little road bump."
The proliferation of dieback has vexed conservationists for decades, but its toll on the remaining kauri forests has become obvious in recent years. It now threatens the species with extinction.
The government last year installed shoe-cleaning stations around a number of sites, including Waipoua. It's also running a pig control program.
But it has stopped short of calling for full closures so far, arguing the human threat to the area is low.
"Every possible option to ensure extensive protection measures around this site of national and cultural significance is being explored," a DOC Northern North Island operations director Sue Reed Thomas said.
But Lincoln University bio-protection researcher Amanda Black is baffled officials won't test Tāne Mahuta and says the site needs to be urgently shut off to give scientists time.
"People are going in there, spraying their feet with a sanitiser but we don't know if it works," she said.
"It's given [DOC] a false sense of security," Dr Black said.
"There's a small window at the moment where science can help, but once we close that you're looking at localised extinction."
If the kauri dieback does reach Tāne Mahuta, researchers say its size would likely mean it would be a matter of years before it succumbed.