Government Sells Tainui-Kawhia Forest to Maori

  • Dr Lockwood Smith

The Government has sold the Crown's interest in Tainui-Kawhia lease forest to the Maori landowners for just under $9 million, Forestry Minister Lockwood Smith announced today.

The forest is a commercial pine plantation of about 1,000 hectares, located on sand country at Kawhia Heads. It has been sold to the Tainui-Kawhia Incorporation on a commercial basis, similar to previous forest sales.

"This is the first sale of a Crown lease forest to Maori landowners and sets an encouraging precedent for further such sales in the future," Dr Smith said.

Until today, there were a total of 20 Crown forests on land leased from Maori, collectively making up 52,000 hectares. The book value of the Crown's interest in these forests is around $400 million. Unlike the former state forests, the Crown lease forests have never been subject to Treaty of Waitangi claims because the Maori ownership of the land is not disputed.

It has been Government policy since November 1987 to offer to sell the Crown's interest in the lease forests to the Maori landowners. The lease agreements do not allow the Crown to sell its interest in the forests on the open market.

"However, it is Government policy that these sales can only proceed if a fully commercial price is obtained, as is the case with this deal," Dr Smith said.

The Tainui-Kawhia Incorporation plans to maintain its land in pine forest and will be releasing further information on its intentions over the next few weeks.