Speech: Surrender of Parengarenga Lease

  • Jo Goodhew
Primary Industries

E rau rangatira ma   

Kua tai mai nei tēnei huihuinga mo tēnei kaupapa tino nui

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Ko Jo Goodhew toku ingoa.

Ko ahau te Minita Tuarua o Manatū Ahu Matua i te haepapa mo nga ngaherehere.

Welcome to this beautiful location, and historic event.

Thank-you to the Incorporation for my warm welcome here today.

I would like to start by acknowledging, from the incorporation:

  • the Chair, Chad Parone;
  • Vice Chair Mrs Nga-i-nanga Kapa;
  • the previous Chair Winiata Brown;
  • the trustees present today including Mr Rihari Wiki, Maahia Nathan, Harry Kapa, Clayton Wiki, and Pereniki Conrad;
  • the Acting General Manager of the Incorporation Mr John Ellis;
  • and the other shareholders, nga kaumatua and members of the local communities at Te Kāo and Te Hapua who are here today. 

I know that at least some of the nga kaumatua and nga kuia here today were directly involved in the early days of the lease forest and the adjacent Aupouri  State Forest.

From the operations and management teams I would like to acknowledge the staff from PF Olsens -  Peter Keach, Operations Manager, Peter Bullen Northland Manager, and Tiwha Everitt, Kaitaia Manager; and Herb Adams of Adams Logging and his crew who we all saw in action earlier today.

From MPI we have: Deputy – Director General Ben Dalton, and several other MPI staff; from Crown Forestry, General Manager Warwick Foran, and the previous General Manager and now-retired Charlie Schell, who was responsible for negotiating the lease variation, that gives rise to us being here today.

I understand other guests today include former and current management staff, customers and suppliers.

Forgive me if I have missed anyone out, and thank you for honouring me with your presence.

This long list of people and parties involved in the Parengarenga forest shows me how this forest has created a thriving business for the incorporation, generating employment and income for the beneficiaries, and the wider region.

The relationship between the Crown and the Incorporation has been long and productive, and I would like to share some of this history with you.

The first plantings on the Aupouri Peninsula began with sand stabilisation in the early 1920s under the then Lands & Survey Department.

By 1929 much of this work had “been lost by neglect”.

This work was revived in the early 1930s by the Public Works Department for unemployment relief and some trees were planted near Waipapakauri.

A notable quote from one of the locals involved said,

“There was some talk of forestry but everyone laughed. What trees could you grow on sand?”

Meanwhile – south of Te Kāo, the Māori Affairs Department organised the planting of some 360 hectares of pine, macrocarpa and eucalypts. Fires and later, a hurricane, caused damage to both blocks.

In 1951 Cabinet decided the NZ Forest Service should take responsibility for the protection work of foredune stabilisation and tree planting with some areas managed for commercial forestry.

Discussions about afforestation and leasing Māori land with local people from Te Kāo and Te Hapua started with a significant meeting in 1958 with Minister the Hon. (later Sir) Eruera Tirikatene.

I would like to quote a moving message from one of the speakers at this gathering:

“Help us somehow to make a living, we just exist, at the moment our food is fish and sand. We look to you to give us this help. If you cannot, then our future here as a people is hopeless. It is work we want, not charity, but now you have seen us here, we have faith in the future.”

The Minister conveyed this message back to the Minister of Maori Affairs, the Right Hon. Walter Nash, who was also Prime Minister.

In early 1963 the Minister announced that “a great forest is to be established in the sand country that borders Ninety Mile Beach in the Far North”.

No funding accompanied this announcement, and it wasn’t until 1963 that the Minister of Forests in the 1960-63 Holyoake Government (Hon. Richard Gerard) was able to ensure impetus was maintained and then increased when funding became short.

This, and the support of the Incorporation’s leaders at the time was instrumental in pushing through the Parengarenga lease.

I note the Hon. Richard Gerard was MP for Mid-Canterbury from 1943 to 1946 and for Ashburton from 1946 to 1966. Interestingly, Ashburton is in my electorate of Rangitata. 

The initial lease - covering more than 6,000 hectares of land – had a term of 99 years from July 1966.

The Minister who signed the agreement to lease in 1969 was the Hon. Duncan McIntyre. 

Planting commenced in 1970 following sand stabilisation using marram and lupin; and proceeded northwards with the northern-most stands planted in 1987.

By 1983 the local employment provided by forestry on the Aupouri sand forests had become substantial.

In addition to 25 NZ Forest Service Staff, the forests employed 187 permanent workers, about 50 winter employees (for planting) and 13 contractors.

When associated drivers and mill workers were taken into account, the greater forest area supported more than 300 workers and their families in the district. 

This was an important contribution to the regional economy; and the ongoing work in harvesting and log cartage, replanting and thinning – not to mention the processing operations I saw yesterday at Juken NZ Ltd’s Kaitaia mill – remains critically important to the region today.

Almost all of the lease forest – and most of the rest of Aupouri Forest – received intensive silviculture of pruning and thinning.

As it happens, as a consequence of the geographic location, wood density from the Aupouri forests is excellent.

While being slower growing and lower yielding than more fertile sites, these forests produce high quality structural grade lumber and veneer.

Following the corporatisation of the Forest Service in 1987, the lease was administered by the Forestry Corporation before coming to Crown Forestry in the then Ministry of Forestry in the early 1990s along with the other 19 forestry leases the Crown had with Māori landowners.

The Crown employed forest management company PF Olsen Ltd to manage the day-to-day operations in the forest.

In the early 1990’s some areas of the forest were production thinned with wood supplied to the then Northern Pulp mill at Kaitaia (which I also visited yesterday).

Harvesting commenced in 1997 with the main contractor Adams Logging Ltd, and has continued uninterrupted on this and the adjacent two smaller lease forests since then.

For those of you who like facts and figures: more than 1.5 million tonnes of logs have been harvested with a sale value of more than $123 million.

Returns have been better than forestry officials had predicted in part due to the straightforward harvesting on sand.

This combined with excellent wood quality as a consequence of high wood density, has meant that forestry is now a proven productive use for land that otherwise would still be unproductive, moving sand.

In 1999 a variation to the lease was negotiated in accordance with government policy whereby Crown Forestry seeks opportunities for the Crown to sell or reduce its interest in the forestry assets it administers.

Under the variation, the term of the lease was reduced to the lifetime of the first rotation of trees with the Crown replanting after harvesting and then surrendering areas from the lease every three years. 

This was the first of the so-called “one-rotation” variations the Crown negotiated with Māori lessors and became a model for a number of other variations the Crown has subsequently agreed with other lessor groups.

In 1997 harvesting commenced and has proceeded without interruption – generating a significant stream of revenue for the Crown and the lessors as well as providing local employment continuously since that time.

Replanting in what is now the Incorporation’s (second rotation) forest commenced in 1998 and the oldest trees are now aged 17 years.

This rotation is being managed to produce a high volume of structural grade logs – capitalising on the area’s ability to grow high density strong wood to meet a high market demand for this grade of logs.

Reflecting on this long history, I believe the Crown, initially through the NZ Forest Service and since the early 1990s through Crown Forestry, has a long and warm relationship with the Incorporation.

It is very fitting that the completion of harvesting of the first rotation stands and the final surrender be celebrated by both parties, and by forestry management company PF Olsen Ltd which has managed the forest for Crown Forestry and the Incorporation since the early 1990s.

This brings us all to the present day, and the future for Northland.

Engineered Wood Products work

As Associate Minister for Primary Industries, a priority for me is to work to develop a thriving domestic engineered wood products industry that will add value and capitalise on our valuable forest resources. 

Having about 50% of our logs go offshore unprocessed is an opportunity missed.

The forestry industry’s Strategic Action Plan highlights the need to transition towards higher value products.

Engineered timber products have the potential to add value to logs for both forest owners and processors.

This is illustrated by comparing export prices: on average, prices for export logs are $132/m3.  Whereas engineered timber products, are estimated to be up to ten times this.

The main issues with the uptake of engineered timber are supply chain blockages, skills shortages, information gaps, biases and manufacturing capacity. A major focus in the last year has been on updating the building standards, lifting the profile of engineered timber buildings and building systems, and improving knowledge and skills of engineers and architects to design in engineered timber.

Building on a thriving domestic industry, there is potential to develop new export markets for NZ radiata pine as quality, sustainable, earthquake - resilient building systems and housing materials.

Northland’s Regional Economic Development

On 4 February 2015, I attended the launch of Te Tai Tokerau Northland Regional Growth Study in Kerikeri.

The report looked at those sectors in the region that have the most potential to sustainably grow investment, incomes and jobs in the future, and what is needed to achieve this.

It also concentrates on the constraints to the development of regional businesses and sectors, and further sets out some of the opportunities available in Northland.

More specifically, the Regional Growth Study indicated that forestry is an important sector for the region.

With 151,800 hectares of planted production forest area, Northland has the third largest standing volume and the fifth largest area in forest compared to other regions in New Zealand.

The region’s forestry sector has significant potential for growth based on the region’s resource and capability advantages, demand from Auckland to meet housing needs and strong demand from growing economies in Asia.

The next step will be the production of a Northland Economic Action Plan whereby the region and central government agree the highest priority actions to tackle and what role each party (industry, iwi/Maori, local and central government) will play in realising the opportunities identified in the study.

As I wish you good afternoon, I want to thank you for the privilege of sharing this story of a proud journey with you, and acknowledge those who have brought us to this auspicious day.

I leave you with this whakatauki as you move into the future:

Whaia te iti kahurangi ki te tuohu koe me he maunga teitei

Pursue your dream to the fullest, if you fail, let it be to a lofty mountain.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.