Maori forestry to aid region

By Mikaela Collins

Te Tai Tokerau Maori Forestry Collective chairman Pita Tipene said the sector could more than triple in Northland over coming years.
Te Tai Tokerau Maori Forestry Collective chairman Pita Tipene said the sector could more than triple in Northland over coming years.

A Maori forestry project which will see 32,000ha of Maori land replanted could create thousands of new jobs, the chairman of a Maori forestry collective says.

Ten Maori land trusts - part of the Te Tai Tokerau Maori Forestry Collective - will be working together to replant more than 32,000ha of their land.

Chairman Pita Tipene said the initiative would create new jobs in the region.

A Northland Maori forestry project could lead to thousands of new jobs as backers hope to carry out more value-added log processing in the region.
A Northland Maori forestry project could lead to thousands of new jobs as backers hope to carry out more value-added log processing in the region.

"There are already 2500 direct jobs created in Te Tai Tokerau and we think there will be a multiplier by three of indirect jobs so as more value is added into the local community this will create more jobs."

Current jobs included horticulture, transport and jobs in the timbermill while an example of indirect jobs might be creating more work for fuel companies who need to provide diesel to transport companies.

"Our preference is to employ local people," Mr Tipene said.

The Te Tai Tokerau Maori Forestry Collective was formed last year to bring together forest and land owners who wanted increased returns from their sector.

He said the plan was about boosting productive land use, creating jobs and contributing to economic development by increasing the return to owners.

"What we want to do is ensure value is added to pine that we grow. We don't want to see logs taken and shipped off. We want to see it processed here and we need to attract investors.

"What we need is scale and if we can give certainty of supply to investors they're likely to come here."

Mr Tipene said the collective would be replanting radiata pine and would also look to diversify commercial activities with manuka honey and cultivating ginseng as potential areas for exploration.

"You can only plant pine in the winter so for the pilot we will be planting in June/July. The harvest age of pine is 25 to 30 years per pine tree so we're looking at (other) ways we can use our land," he said.

The pilot Mr Tipene is referring to is a 813ha prototype which will pave the way for the development of the remaining land. He said it would introduce the planting process to Maori land owners who are new to the business of managing forests.

"These Maori land owners are passive owners. They lease the land and it's the people leasing the land who have knowledge about forestry," Mr Tipene said.

Nineteen NorthTec students undertaking silviculture training will work with land owners and contractors to plant the 813ha. NorthTec's programme coordinator Graham Smith said he was proud to partner with the collective.

"The programmes give Maori learners the opportunity to work from their own communities with forest silviculture contractors, in support of planting their own land, a realisation of their hapu aspirations," said Mr Smith.

The initiative has the backing of the Government through Te Puni Kokiri and the Ministry for Primary Industries as well as local private enterprise.

- Mr Tipene outlined the forestry initiative at Te Tai Tokerau Maori Economic Development hui in Kerikeri yesterday.

- Northern Advocate

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