Eastland Wood Council Awards Dinner

  • Hon Meka Whaitiri


  • Kia ora koutou,  I am delighted to be here tonight …Thanks to Pio for his introduction.
  • This is an exciting time to be in forestry.
  • Tonight I get to talk to the people in forestry’s front line. This organisation, The Eastland Wood Council is an influential regional association that includes forest owners, farm forestry, contractors, forest consultants, marketers, nurseries and the local port companies.
    One Billion Trees
  • Forestry is integral to our economic and environmental landscape.
  • Forestry is on the eve of a period of growth that will be led by the One Billion Trees planting programme.
  • Planting will include both natives and exotics for permanent and harvestable forestry.  Innovative thinking and genuine partnerships with private sector, local councils, iwi and Māori land owners will be a must.
  • The programme is a national identity exercise, and the One Billion Trees will serve many objectives.
  • It will benefit the regions, our environment and our people – it is a big boost for the sector – it will create more and higher skilled jobs and investment.


Forestry workforce


  • Occupying just 7 percent of our land, forest products account for 15 percent of primary industry export revenue.  There are over 35,000 people who work in the sector and another few thousand who work indirectly for forestry in fields such as logistics, research, and law.
  • I would really like to acknowledge the forestry workers here tonight.  You are an absolute asset to this industry and to the country.  You are the ones that will help us re-build the forestry sector.  Your knowledge, experience and skills are going to be so important, as we embark on our One Billion Trees planting programme.
  • We want to build a strong, skilled, stable and reliable labour market which means safe and rewarding life time careers across forestry.  I intend to announce forestry scholarships at Fieldays in June.
  • I will champion increasing the number of women and of Māori working in forestry across the sector.
  • By 2025 an additional 15,100 workers with formal post school qualifications are going to be needed in the industry. That’s a 30 per cent increase on the current workforce.
  • Just last month my colleague Hon Willie Jackson announced funding for the Eastland Wood Council, developed and industry backed ‘Generation Programme’ to attract new people, particularly our rangatahi, into your workforce.
  • Well done to Te Tairāwiti for piloting this approach to take steps to solve its workforce challenges.
  • I want rewarding forestry career pathways that allow people to grow their skills, access training, and get the chance to work more widely across the sector.
  • Like other primary industries forestry and wood processing will have to attract, maintain and develop the talent it will require to meet the growing demand for wood products.
  • As forestry workers, you are important champions because you can encourage others to join you in the industry.

Te Uru Rākau


  • Just last week the government celebrated the launch of Te Uru Rākau, the first step in re-establishing a forestry service in New Zealand.
  • With its head office in Rotorua, Te Uru Rākau is a dedicated business unit for forestry.  It will give more attention to forestry in New Zealand and also making meaningful improvements to the way forestry operates in New Zealand.
  • We want Te Uru Rākau to achieve one vision for all New Zealanders in the One Billion tree planting programme through economic and civic engagement.

Te Uru Rākau – Manuka seedling announcement


  • Just this week we made a major announcement that Te Uru Rākau, will partner with Mānuka Farming New Zealand to plant 1.8 million Mānuka trees across New Zealand.  The seedlings will be free for planting on land assessed as suitable, with planting from July to September 2018.

Māori and forestry


  • Right now forestry provides Māori with an enormous opportunity.  I encourage all of you to grab hold of that opportunity and to look closely at what this could mean for you, your whānau, hapu and iwi.
  • Whether you are a forestry or wood processing worker, business owner, iwi or Māori land owner – the opportunity has the potential to enable you to meet your long term economic and cultural development aspirations.
  • I am certain the role of Māori in forestry will grow.  Currently about 20 per cent of the forestry workforce are Māori.
  • Through the Treaty of Waitangi settlements, a number of Iwi have received substantial forestry holdings.
  • Māori are now major stakeholders and decision makers in the Forestry Industry. Māori own 30 per cent of the land on which commercial forests are planted.
  • Māori forestry assets are now worth more than $2 billion dollars.


Budget messages


  • Yesterday’s Budget is about showing New Zealanders we have a plan and it is fully funded. We are building the Foundations for the Future.  A key to this will be, the Provincial Growth Fund and the One Billion Trees planting programme.


Closing Remarks


  • It is a privilege to acknowledge the excellence in the forestry industry.  Recognising excellence is a key way to drive improvement in performance and to attract people into a forestry career.
  • Finally I would like to acknowledge and congratulate two strong women in Forestry. Prue Younger who formally leaves her role as CEO of the Eastland Wood Council and Kim Holland the new CEO. Congratulations to both of you and thank you.
  • I am excited about the potential that forestry represents for New Zealand.  You are all a part of this.  The Coalition Government is committed to working at pace to deliver on our One Billion Tree target.
  • This will require leadership and more unity across the forestry sector than currently exists.
  • We know you are up for it.
  • We look forward to working with you.